Flanders; General school headscarf ban on hold

Flanders; General school headscarf ban on hold

For more on this story see:
* Flanders: Public schools to ban headscarves
* Flanders: Reactions to headscarf ban

The Council of State suspended the general ban on wearing headscarves or other religious symbols in the governmental education system. The ban was supposed to come into effect in the next school year.

Last September the Flemish school authority decided that students and personnel in all institutes should not wear 'distinguishing signs of life outlook'. The general ban came after the decision by two Antwerp school to ban Muslim students from wearing the headscarf. There was quite a bit of protest against this decision, which was becoming grimmer by the minute.

Several students lodged a complaint by the Council of State since they thought that the general ban was unconstitutional. The Council of State decided to suspend the ban for now, as there's possibly a conflict between the authority of the educational system and freedom of religion, an article in the constitution.

The Council of State will first ask advice from the Constitutional Court about the question whether the public school system can decide to implement a general headscarf ban. That advice is expected towards the end of the year and could be decisive for the final ruling of the Council of State.

On basis of the the advice from the Constitutional Court, the Council of State could maintain the current ruling and thus reject the general ban. This means that only individual schools can make the decision. the Council of State can also change the current ruling, and allow the public education system to implement a general ban.

The Flemish school authority didn't want to comment on the ruling of the Council of State and is now deliberating about its standpoint.

The CGKR (Center for Equal Opportunities and the Fight Against Racism) has already said in the past that a general ban on students and personnel in all public education institutions is a step too far.

Source: VRT (Dutch)

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