Antwerp: Protests against headscarf ban, call to snitch on burka-wearers

Antwerp: Protests against headscarf ban, call to snitch on burka-wearers

On Sunday about 120 Muslims protested in Antwerp against the headscarf ban in the Royal Athenaeums of Antwerp and Hoboken.  They carried signs saying: "Everybody free, except us," "Democracy, not discrimination" and "You are the oppressors, not us."  (See pictures here)  They demanded to rescind the headscarf ban by the two schools.

Parent Mina Cheeba said in a speech that the representatives of the parents in the school council haven't heard of any social pressure to wear a headscarf and that if there are actual complaints, then they would like to take a look at them so they could come to a solution together.

Cheeba says the decision to ban the headscarf was made without asking the parents' advice.  The school regulations shouldn't be changed autonomously, but by consultation with the parents. 

Several students also expressed their displeasure.  One said that they're supposedly under pressure to wear a headscarf, but that's nonsense.  They are not feather-brains who accept everything without thinking.

Ayoub Aazzouti said that he's fed up of the men being portrayed as machos who force girls to wear headscarves, because it's not like that. "For us boys and girls are equal.  We have a lot of respect for them and they are intelligent enough to decide on their own if they wear a headscarf or not.  Stop using us as an excuse."

On Monday about 40 Muslim women showed up to protest in front of the Royal Athenaeum of Hoboken.  Some of the slogans included: 'distressed by the lack of understanding', 'why a ban on my character', and 'lies in order to discriminate'.

One of the students spoke: "We have a right to study and to a headscarf.  It's not one or the other, we have a right to both."

Principal Chris Weyers spoke as well, telling she understands them, but that they did not protest when all other schools closed their doors to them.  She said they should speak to the government so that they'll be welcome everywhere again.  The principal says it's wrong that girls depend in their choice of studies on whether a school allows a headscarf or not.

Meanwhile, Belgian newspaper De Morgen reports that four students of the Antwerp school have turned to a lawyer to see if they have grounds for a legal process.


Earlier this week senior Vlaams Belang member Filip Dewinter called upon VB activists to report women in burka or niqab to the police.  Though wearing clothes covering the entire body is banned by the Antwerp police, almost nothing is now done against offenders.  People who break the law are booked only on their second violation.

VB politician Marie-Rose Morel writes on her blog that she doesn't like snitching and that such an initiative leaves her with a bad taste in her mouth.  Morel explains that she has questions about the 'radicalization of Islam in some major cities", but she doubts whether informing on women in burkas will 'avert this threat'.    The question is whether Flanders needs and finds it useful to have 'big brothers' behind the curtains, waiting to call the informant hot-line.

She says the real problem isn't that the police doesn't know the people wear a burka, but that they don't do anything to those they catch.  In order to deal with this situation Morel says you need more than an informant hot-line.  She suggests a 'brave justice minister' and a police corps that has more elbow room to deal with obstinate offenders.  That would at least be useful.

Source: HLN 1, 2, 3, 4 (Dutch)

See also:
* Antwerp: Two schools ban headscarves
* Antwerp: Following headscarf ban, imam calls to boycott Flemish schools
* Antwerp: Imam backs down from boycott call

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