hat tip-April 24, 2008 http://www.javno.com/en/world/clanak.php?id=38322
Five schools in the Dutch Protestant “Bible Belt” have become the first in the Netherlands to be allowed to ban wearing headscarves and other religious symbols, a government-funded commission said on Tuesday.
“Normally schools won’t be allowed to ban the headscarf,” a spokeswoman for the Commission for Equal Treatment said. “But in this case, these are specialised schools … and they want to preserve their identity.”
The Dutch government last year agreed a total ban on the wearing of Muslim burqas and face veils in public, citing security concerns. Critics said the decision was likely to alienate the country’s 1 million Muslims.
That legislation has yet to come into force. The wearing of burqas and similar garments is limited at the moment to public transport and schools.
Since the murder of anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002, the Dutch have lost their reputation for tolerance, pushing through some of Europe’s toughest immigration laws.
Muslims, mostly of Turkish or Moroccan descent, make up almost 6 percent of the Dutch population.
Several Muslim children attend the five schools in Epe and Vaassen which lie in the heart of the rural Bible Belt, east of Amsterdam, the commission spokeswoman said.
“If someone wants to attend the school, they are asked to sign papers agreeing with the religion, identity and rules in these schools,” she added.
A small political party long associated with the Bible Belt, the Christian Union, almost doubled its vote in a parliamentary election in November and has become the kingmaker in the Netherlands’ new centrist coalition government.
France bans Muslim headscarves and other religious garments from state schools, while Britain is considering limits on veils. New government guidelines for immigrants in Italy tell women not to wear veils that cover their faces.