Headscarf/Muslim Veil roundup

Headscarf/Muslim Veil roundup

In the Netherlands, Belgium and France, there are various discussions about acting against the Muslim headscarf or burqa.


Brussels: A young jurist, who is not a lawyer, asked to take the oath and argue in court with a headscarf. The Francophone Law Society of Brussels denied her request. (NL, NL)

Antwerp: About 150 people showed up for a protest for equal opportunities in education and the workplace. Four known trouble makers were arrested. Professor Ides Nicaise of K.U.Leuven: "Immigrant students are still all too often referred to vocational training. Schools have difficulties with children who speak another language and they are afraid of Islam. The headscarf ban is also sheer disgrace". (NL)

Mechelen: Twelve Muslim girls held a press conference in the muncipality building against the decision by teh Flemish school authority to ban headscarves in their public schools. "Islam is a recognized religion. Everything that has to do with it, should be respected. There's a earning obligation in Belgium, not a school obligation. There are alternatives, such as homeschooling and exam commissions."

They're supported by Ali Salmi, alderman for Diversity and Equal Opportunities Policy. (NL)


41% of Dutch youth think that headscarves and skullcaps don't belong in school. They would like to see a ban on religious expression in public schools. The Muslim girls who participated in the survey were almost all against a ban. (NL)

Friesland: Keimpe Bleeker prepared the first headscarf in the Frisian flag colors for Fadwa Kartoubi, who works in the province. (photo in article). Also see clip from Dutch TV.

Rotterdam: Artist Karin de Visser is organizing a protest on October 10th in response to Wilders' headscarf tax proposal. She calls on everybody to show up in a headscarf and form the letters VVV (Women for Freedom). Last week she called on all Dutch women to wear a headscarf on that day, which she named the National Headscarf Day. (NL)


Notes from the burqa ban debate

Remember all the talk about France banning the burqa and niqab Muslim veils for women a few months ago? That project is now in the parliamentary inquiry phase, a six-month fact-finding mission expected to wind up late this year and produce a draft bill to outlaw them. That’s the way France handled it in 2003 when it wanted to stop Muslim girls from wearing headscarves to state schools. But the process seems more complex this time around. There’s less passion and more hesitation in the debate. A smooth progression from the inquiry to the ban and to its implementation no longer looks assured.

To get a feel for the debate, I dropped by the panel’s latest open hearing late on Tuesday and listened to the arguments being made. Five mayors from suburbs with Muslim minorities were due to speak to the panel, which is led by a Communist deputy named André Gerin who makes no bones about his view that a ban is needed. Mayors like these men play a key role in an issue like this, because they are on the front lines dealing with social change and are taken seriously when they clamour for change. Several are also deputies in the National Assembly - France allows them to occupy multiple offices - so they can easily lobby at the national level for something they want.

Mayors raise doubts about burqa ban

Several mayors of French towns faced with growing demands from Muslim residents say they fear a proposed ban on head-to-toe burqa and niqab veils could not be enforced and might even prompt more women to cover up.


"Who'll be responsible for enforcing this law?" added Dilian, mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois, an ethnically mixed north Paris suburb rocked by rioting in 2005. "Police in Clichy won't even give out parking tickets in some places or at some times."

[ed: The mayors are right to question how this ban would be enforced. Several Belgian cities have similar bans, and it is very rarely enforced.]

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