Norway: Debate about the niqab

Lars Gule from Oslo University College suggested yesterday forbidding the niqab and other forms of face coverings at colleges and universities across Norway. Gule spoke to Klassekampen newspaper after a possible ban was discussed Monday at the OUC.

According to Gule, a former general secretary of the Norwegian Humanist Association, students who come covered to schools, colleges or universities put high demands to their teachers as it undercuts communication and it creates psychological insecurity.

He says that covering the entire face makes it impossible to communicate equally and mutually. Furthermore, students who choose to do so can't count on getting a job afterwards.

Gule thinks it's inconceivable that a social worker with a niqab shall work with adults or children, or that a doctor, nurse or teacher will work while her face is covered.

Gule also thinks that a veil makes it harder to get a good overview of whoever is sitting in the classroom. It can be especially problematic for tests and exams. It is impossible to check that identity of the person.

Gule emphasized that he wasn't talking about general ban on face coverings, such as the one discussed in the Netherlands and other European countries. He is not talking about a ban on a hijab, which only covers the hair.

G├╝lay Kutal of Norway's Socialist Left Party comes out against Gule's proposal. She says forbidding the niqab will do the opposite of its intent. A ban will provoke resistance when it concerns one's identity and
that increases hostility towards society

Kutal would like to see a personal discussion with the students and asks Gule if he has talked with this girls and their families. If the niqab is banned you'll never find out why an intellectual person that wants to contribute to society with their education freely elects to segregate in this same society.

She says those that demand a ban on using a face-covering veil don't recognize the difference between a hijab and a niqab. So how do they
already see the eventual disadvantages of wearing a niqab in an educational or employment situation.

Klassekampen talked with some Muslim student politicians, however, are uncertain how many actually use the niqab in colleges and universities.

Mohammed Usman Rana, leader of the Muslim student society says that it's not a prevalent phenomenon and that therefore academic institutions prefer to talk with those that go around with a full veil rather than banning it.

Ilham Hassan, leader of the Somali student society in Oslo University and Oslo University College says she has never seen a student who covers her face.

Sources: Dagbladet 1, 2 (Norwegian)

See also: Oslo: Clearance for banning Niquab

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