Antwerp: Demonstrations for equal opportunities at work, school

Antwerp: Demonstrations for equal opportunities at work, school

Both demonstrations did not draw a big crowd.


About forty Muslims, mostly women, from the "Vrije Keuze" group (Free choice), protested in Antwerp Sunday last week. They demanded equal opportunities in education and the job-market.

Mina Chebaa started with a group of parents who protested against the headscarf ban in the Antwerp Atheneum, but she says the problem is much more basic. "We want to demand equal rights for our children, but we don't yet percieve any equal opportunities, and our children also not. We're now demanding real opportunities for our children. Not tomorrow, but today. Our children are the future of tomorrow."

Ayoub (18): "Equal opportunities means that I can practice a profession that I can choose myself. That means no discrimination in temporary job agencies."

Mina Chebaa adds: "Some customers literally say that they they shouldn't send any brown men."

Vrije Keuze is working with 27 former students of the Antwerp Atheneum, who are refusing to take off their headscarf in order to return to school. The girls are preparing for their exams on their own. Mina Chebaa: "We support them, but other people have taken over the responsibility from us."


The Arab European League (AEL) protested against Islamophobia this past Sunday. The organization wants to give a clear signal that the current integration policy is failing, both in education and in the job-market. The AEL is also demonstrating against the increasing violence against Muslims.

About twenty demonstrators showed up.

The AEL wants the government to support Muslim schools. "The equal opportunities policy that now manages education isn't working. Too few Muslims go on to higher education, and with the introduction of the headscarf ban, the chance for equal opportunities in education is being undermined," according to the AEL. Muslims are also still discriminated on the job-market. "Therefore we demand to immediately set up a quota. that is the only way to fight discrimination in job applications."

The AEL says there's also increasing violence against Muslims. "If anywhere in the world a Jew is attacked, at once people speak about a second Holocaust. Violence against Muslims, on the other hand, is silenced and thus also tolerated."

Sources: Nieuwsblad, HLN (Dutch)

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