Norway: Debate on headscarf in school continues

Norway: Debate on headscarf in school continues

Loveleen Rihel Brenna has seen parents beat their girls when they discovered that they've taken off their hijab on the way to school.

"When I worked in the Children's Protection Service, I myself saw parents who beat their daughter who on the way to school have taken off their hijab," says Loveleen Rihel Brenna.

She the head of the parent's committee for elementary schools, integration adviser and member of the Women's panel which was established in February by the Children and Equality minister Audun Lysbakken.

"I think girls who want to wear the hijab should have the option to do it - also in school. But the minute girls have parents forcing them to wear the hijab, we must have a debate about wearing it. The way I see it, banning and coercion are just as wrong," says Brenna.

She wants to discuss the issue on the Women's panel, which consists of 31 women whose goal is to set the agenda on equality and integration.

PM Jens Stoltenberg told NRK yesterday that he didn't want a national ban on hijab in school, and that individual schools and municipality are most suitable to regulate it on their own. Earlier this week FrP's Siv Jensen made it clear she wants to ban the burka in public. She also wants to ban the hijab in school. Education minister Kristin Halvorsen (SV) says she doesn't want hijab for children of elementary school age.

"This debate is going by the premises of the majority. Women should discuss the issue, not least of all mothers, says Loveleen Rihel Brenna. She knows families where both wearing the hijab and not wearing it are accepted.

"I've met two sisters, one wears the hijab, while the other has put it away," she says.

Ny Krohnborg school is the school in Bergen with the most other-culture students. Principal Atle Fasteland has long thought there should be a ban on hijab in the school, and is skeptical about the possibility of an individual school or municipality making that decision.

Fasteland says that the hijab shows religious belonging, identity and a certain view of women's place in society. This is about helps the aims of good education and positive integration. Everybody should have the same options of developing, and for many teh hijab can be a hindrance.

At the same time he says that many of the most capable students are girls who wear the hijab. "But then I must also ask as principal if that's because these girls don't participate in other areas," says Fasteland He think it could easily develop into only-hijab schools in the question would be decided locally.

"Parents who want their daughters to wear the hijab will send them to schools that allow wearing it," says Fasteland.

In Oslo there are many schools where minority-speaking students are in the majority. Many of the principals of thee schools are skeptical about a hijab ban.

Anne Myhrvold, principal of the Gran school where 90% of the students are of minority background, told Dagsavisen that she doesn't support coercion, and that an open debate is better than a ban. Hijab doesn't cause us problems, she says.

Source: Aftneposten (Norwegian)

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