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Catholic school may ban Islamic headscarves

Tuesday 06 September 2011

A Catholic secondary school in Volendam is within its right to ban pupils from wearing Islamic headscarves, Amsterdam appeal court said on Tuesday.

The court said independent schools, such as the Don Bosco College, can set standards to uphold their own values, as long as they apply the rules consistently. This is the case at the Volendam school, the court said.

In addition, the pupil was well aware the school was a Catholic institution when she applied and should have realised that adopting Islamic dress would not be allowed.


The school in the former fishing village introduced the ban several months after Imane Mahssan had requested permission to wear a headscarf and had begun doing so. She was then banned from attending lessons.

The girl's father took the case to the Equal Opportunities Commission.

It ruled in the girl's favour, but the school decided to ignore the ruling, prompting the girl to go to court. It found in favour of the school, prompting the girl to take the case to appeal.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

I'd love to see a Muslim school allow people to wear crosses and carry rosaries.

By Phil | 6 September 2011 6:22 PM

Let's just apply the opposite. A catholic isn't even allowed to wear a cross in Saudi. If they don't accept this then they simply don't live there. Netherlands has embraced all cultures and religions but you can be pretty sure that if a catholic child somehow enrolled (with emphasis on the word somehow) in an Islamic school, do you think she'd be allowed to wear a cross? Where do these individuals get off thinking that this is ok to force their religious beliefs/traditions in a school that is clearly not secular??

By Michael | 6 September 2011 9:14 PM

where will be the limit of what to ban and what is allowed... who will draw the line...

By Karido | 7 September 2011 7:36 AM

What is an Islamic pupil doing at a Catholic school? Wouldn't it be better for her to go to an atheist institution?

By JF | 7 September 2011 7:57 AM

Isn't it that The Netherlands is calling for Democracy too, how do you compare it to Saudi Arabia in this case... External artifacts makes no one religious or atheist. The most dangerous cocktail is Politics and Religion, becarefull not to drink that cup for it will bring Europe to the 14th Century again.

By Karido | 7 September 2011 8:11 AM

I agree with JF.
It is a CATHOLIC school, I assume they will not be happy about having teen, single mothers.
It is not only about education subjects, they also teach their own values and principles.

By joanna | 7 September 2011 8:34 AM

@ PHIL and MICHAEL - an eye for an eye, will make the whole world go blind.

By xetadog | 7 September 2011 9:37 AM

@JF. The answer is simple. Suppose the Catholic school is the scholastically best in a pupil's area. Then sending that person to that school would help his/her future career and life. Would you wish to deprive your child of this opportunity? Note that I said nothing about religion. Should a religious symbol be allowed to reduce a pupil's future chances? I put education and societal contribution before anything concerning religion.

By Husserl | 7 September 2011 9:43 AM

JF- Muslims are not atheists, of course. In fact atheists are seen as lost souls within the Muslim religion. For more info on Islam and the Muslim faith and religion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam

By Bill | 7 September 2011 9:43 AM

You mean a "public" school with no religious affiliation, JF?

By CW | 7 September 2011 10:16 AM

"I'd love to see a Muslim school allow people to wear crosses and carry rosaries"Phil you have obviously never been to a "Muslim" school have you?

By Jason | 7 September 2011 11:50 AM

How come some of our readers feel comparing Saudi with Netherlands is relevant. It take courage to practice libral practice - have to set better standards for others to follow. Not follow poor practices of others and justify it by giving reference.
Religion is no reason for discrimination in modern democracy / socity which NL is.

By S Sinha | 7 September 2011 5:46 PM

It is a 'catholic' school, end of story !!

By maverick | 7 September 2011 6:07 PM

Funny how with so many many problems in the world, people are going to court for wearing a piece of cloth on their head.
I agree that a muslim girl should not be enrolled at a catholic school. What a nonsense. But if that specific school is the best option for the girl, in terms of education, her future, etc, as Husseri says, then wearing a heardscarf shouldn't be a priority for HER on the first place.

By P. | 7 September 2011 10:12 PM

It is not that the Muslim girl's parents
are not aware of the dos and don'ts in
the Catholic School.They just wanted to test the patients of the School's authorities and better if the Courts ruled in their favour and then compensations will be on the way.Simple as that.

By ericrufinosiah | 8 September 2011 4:25 AM

In Indonesia, where majority are moslem, some chistians go to moslem school (or university), there is no ban whatsoever because the christians are at odds by not wearing hijab while not every moslem wearing hijab anyway.
But the pressure are more to the teaching inside the class where some teachers expreess/instill a certain level of sentiment/negative towards non moslem.
In short, difference way of thinking are always at odds with each other, banned or not banned, doesn't really matter, even if it is not banned the pressure will manifest in other kind of form eg. negativity, etc. As long as they're not being told to kill each other, all rules are fine. they will deal with the pressure.

By IndoChristian | 8 September 2011 8:07 AM

Netherlands is just catching up.

A number of other European countries, including Belgium, France, and Germany, have banned the wearing of religious headscarves in all or part of their schools.

By Shanta | 8 September 2011 8:40 AM

I have no problem with the any private school having particular codes. I do, however, expect them to follow government school standards if they receive government funding. As explained, non-Catholics and non-Christians will also want their children to go to the best schools, that is why they are there. If the best schools in NL were Muslims I would not be suprised if Catholic kids would go and I expect the same issues. Last comment, Saudi yes, but many Muslim countries do in fact allow Christian schools and wearing crosses and other symbols.

By Donny vdH | 8 September 2011 11:53 AM

Sure, Jason, I taught a seminar on college admissions at one in Irving, Texas. You would not show up in a Star of David or wearing a cross, and every girl from 6th grade on had on Abayas and jilbabs.

By Phil | 8 September 2011 3:35 PM

So many people are asking why a muslim would be at a catholic school. It would be much the same reason that I would need to send an atheist child to a christian school in my area. There are not many choices. Where I live there are 2 secondary schools -- either catholic or protestant christian. I suspect that Volendam is much the same.

By Quest | 8 September 2011 11:26 PM

@P . Very interesting and sharp thought. One reply is that in our case, lifestyle and educational preference are often equally valued by a person. Another concerns the mutual independence of faiths. On both grounds, neither factor should be imposed as dominent. To do so limits the pupil's freedom of choice for no reason that I can see right now. I'm open to correction and discussion.

By Husserl | 9 September 2011 6:38 AM

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