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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ireland: I want my daughters to have the legal right to wear hijab to school

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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1 Comments:
Blogger IftikharA [At 10:54 AM]:

Muslim youths are angry, frustrated and extremist because they have been mis-educated and de-educated by the British schooling. Muslim children are confused because they are being educated in a wrong place at a wrong time in state schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers. They face lots of problems of growing up in two distinctive cultural traditions and value systems, which may come into conflict over issues such as the role of women in the society, and adherence to religious and cultural traditions. The conflicting demands made by home and schools on behaviour, loyalties and obligations can be a source of psychological conflict and tension in Muslim youngsters. There are also the issues of racial prejudice and discrimination to deal with, in education and employment. They have been victim of racism and bullying in all walks of life. According to DCSF, 56% of Pakistanis and 54% of Bangladeshi children has been victims of bullies. The first wave of Muslim migrants were happy to send their children to state schools, thinking their children would get a much better education. Than little by little, the overt and covert discrimination in the system turned them off. There are fifteen areas where Muslim parents find themselves offended by state schools.

The right to education in one’s own comfort zone is a fundamental and inalienable human right that should be available to all people irrespective of their ethnicity or religious background. Schools do not belong to state, they belong to parents. It is the parents’ choice to have faith schools for their children. Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim teacher or a child in a Muslim school. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools. An ICM Poll of British Muslims showed that nearly half wanted their children to attend Muslim schools. There are only 143 Muslim schools. A state funded Muslim school in Birmingham has 220 pupils and more than 1000 applicants chasing just 60.

Majority of anti-Muslim stories are not about terrorism but about Muslim culture--the hijab, Muslim schools, family life and religiosity. Muslims in the west ought to be recognised as a western community, not as an alien culture.
Iftikhar Ahmad
www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

 
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