Ireland: Hijab policy to remain school decision

THE hijab is in -- but the burqa is out under new policy rules for uniforms in schools. They were drawn up following controversy over the wearing of the hijab, a square of fabric, folded into a triangle, placed over the head and fastened under the chin.

Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe and Integration Minister Conor Lenihan jointly issued agreement recommendations which were drawn up following consultations and a review of the legal position in Ireland.

They agreed that the current system, whereby schools decide their uniform policy at a local level, is reasonable, works and should be maintained.

"In this context, no school uniform policy should act in such a way that it, in effect, excludes students of a particular religious background from seeking enrolment or continuing their enrolment in a school. However, this statement does not recommend the wearing of clothing in the classroom which obscures a facial view and creates an artificial barrier between pupil and teacher. Such clothing hinders proper communication."

Minister O'Keeffe said this meant the burqa could not be used as teachers could not see the full range of facial expressions of the students. The burqa covers the entire body and has a grille over the face. He was not aware of any cases where students sought to wear the burqa in Irish schools.

It is believed that the niqab is also unacceptable for the same reasons -- the niqab is a veil that covers the face but has a space cut out for the eyes.

The Irish Hijab Campaign has said it welcomed the recommendations although it would have liked to have seen more explicit legislation to protect the hijab.


Source: Independent (English)

See also: Ireland: 48% support headscarves in schools, Ireland: Opposition calls for school headscarf ban

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