The issue of the hijab clearly defines how modern Ireland treats its minorities. Irish Muslims deserve the right to dress how they wish and be as Irish as everyone else when doing so.
Continued official prevarication and the ill-informed criticism that has met this call is an indication that sensible social policy needs to be enacted. It seems strange that some people are so clearly offended by others' religious needs.
Modern Ireland can do better for all its citizens.
Some schools allow the hijab while others do not -- and this disparity in practice has necessitated the intervention of the Equality Authority.
Integration Minister Conor Lenihan naively states that there "are no examples of schools where it has been an issue. But there are plenty examples of where it has been accommodated," a statement that is both illogical and untrue.
There are cases of Muslim girls suffering discrimination based upon their religious dress across the country. Indeed, emboldened by Government inaction, a number of schools have explicitly banned the hijab since the new term this year and the Irish Hijab Campaign is following up on further reports....
The failure of the Government to uphold the constitutional rights of Muslims to practice their religion by legislating for the hijab -- in whatever way it manifests itself -- and mainstreaming it in Irish society, is simply a green light for the continuance of 'divergent practices' and discrimination....
The measure of a truly progressive society is how it treats its minorities. In this respect the issue of the hijab will remain.
However, let us not forget about other concerns such as burial space, prayer space, religious accommodation in the workplace, proper inclusion in the political process, the lack of Muslim schools, mosques, etc.
All of these point to inequality and must be addressed if Muslims are ever going to feel that they 'belong'.
I believe we can all build a better Ireland based on equal respect; an Ireland where we can all play a positive role. [Link]
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