Czech Students Show Solidarity with Hijabi Colleague

PRAGUE – Students of a Prague high school have launched a video campaign in support of their Muslim colleague freedom to don hijab, after irrational campaign by some parents to expel her.

“We want to use this video to show that we students see things differently than those activists who are bombarding our director,” Tomáš Kučera, one of the student’s classmates, told Prague Radio on Thursday, April 21.

“We want to make it clear that we are in contact with Eman [Ghaleb], that we know she’s a Muslim, and that this doesn’t bother us. We take her as she is and don’t regard her as any kind of danger.”

Ghaleb, whose family emigrated to Czech from Yemen 13 years ago, attends a secondary school in Teplice, a North Bohemian spa town with a sizable Muslim minority.

The dilemma started after the school principal received dozens of emails calling for seventeen-year-old Eman Ghaleb expulsion for “promoting Islam.”

A letter from a Czech who doesn’t want their “children threatened by Islam” that has been shared on Facebook claims that Ghaleb promotes her faith on social networks and in the media.

The accusations, described as irrational, referred to her involvement in a campaign last year encouraging Arab visitors to keep Teplice tidy.

Responding to the campaign, Ghaleb wrote on her Facebook page, “As regards my headscarf, for me it’s not a religious symbol but something that is part of me and my identity.”

“I repeat that if there were a law in the Czech Republic against it or if the school management decided to ban covering oneself in school, I would respect it. Until that time I will follow the path of freedom, which I respect and think is the most important thing for mankind,” she added.

Along with posting the video to support their Muslim colleague, supporters of Ghaleb have been posting photos of themselves also wearing headscarves.

The hateful, irrational campaign against the young Muslim was also rejected by the school head Zdeněk Bergman, who said he has no intention of expelling the girl.

“If anything this girl behaves in a very positive manner here in the school and in the town. She contributes to peaceful coexistence with the Arab community here,” he said.

“Islam isn’t promoted here in any way. People have argued for her expulsion by saying she’s broken the school rules. She hasn’t.”