Flanders: Public schools to ban headscarves
Dutch-language public schools in Belgium will ban the wearing of Muslim headscarves in classes, school officials in the Flanders region announced Friday.
The ban affects 700 schools in the northern region of Flanders, including some in Brussels.
It follows protests after two schools in Antwerp this month joined other schools where the Muslim headscarf, which covers the hair but does not conceal the face, is already banned.
Responding to a complaint by a student at one of the schools, Belgium's highest administrative tribunal ruled on Tuesday that schools could not take such decisions on their own.
The tribunal will rule on the student's appeal next Tuesday -- prompting the community's education board to make public its unified stance on Friday.
Belgian schools have previously enjoyed autonomy in such decisions, with one third authorising the wearing of Muslim headscarf, another forbidding them and the remainder giving no formal guidance.
The Flemish school board said the ban in communal schools would be introduced gradually to give time to those establishments which have not banned the scarf to do so.
The director general of the Flemish Catholic Education Secretariat, Mieke Van Hecke, said on Friday that the Catholic educational system will not introduce a general headscarf ban.
"We think the autonomy of the school and the local context is very important and precisely because of that there won't be a general ban by us. Often the schools decide in dialog with the parents what the best solution is. Thus in a majority of the schools it was agreed not to wear a headscarf inside the schools, but that outside the school context it's allowed." Some schools have a total ban, and some schools allow the headscarves.
Source: De Tijd