Antwerp: Imam backs down from boycott call
Antwerp imam Nordin Taouil faced a lot of criticism for his call to Muslim parents to keep their children home from school on September 1st. The imam earned loud applause when he made this statement at the Royal Atheneum in Antwerp, during a protests against the headscarf ban. Now he says that it will be nothing more than a symbolic act.
In a debate on TV program De Zevende Dag Taouil said that his words were distorted. "It was never the intention to keep students from school, it was only an emotional reaction. We only wanted to open the debate and protest against this discriminatory ban."
The imam says he doesn't support schools for Muslims. "People should learn to associate with other convictions of faith and if we open separate schools then that leads to a segregated society, and that is not healthy."
Taouil says his statements were a cry of distress. Muslim girls have a right to show their identity and the veil is part of that. It's therefore hypocritical to allow the headscarf in the street and not in school. The imam says that only a dictatorial society can impose a headscarf ban. "But Flanders is not a dictatorship. That is France the headscarf is banned, is because that country is a secular state, Belgium is a kingdom," according to Taouil.
Sources: HLN 1, 2; De Redactie (Dutch)
See also: Antwerp: Following headscarf ban, imam calls to boycott Flemish schools