Schools in Belgian region ban Muslim headscarves
About one fifth of all schools in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking Flanders region will ban pupils from wearing Muslim headscarves, the schools said on Friday.
“This decision promotes the feeling of equality and prevents group formation or segregation on the basis of external symbols of life philosophy,” said a statement from the schools, which number about 700.
Most schools in Flanders are Catholic.
Hitherto, each school in Flanders has had the right to decide whether to allow the scarf. Around one third of the 700 schools in the region had banned the headscarf, one third explicitly allowed it, and one-third had no rule.
The system had been credited with minimizing tension over the issue by allowing each school to consult with its own community.
But trouble flared on September 1 when two schools in the port city of Antwerp and the nearby town of Hoboken brought in their own ban.
The schools said the move was necessary because some of their girl pupils were being bullied by classmates into wearing the headscarf against their will.
But the move sparked demonstrations from Muslim pupils.