Bringing good news to Muslims, Danish Immigration Minister Kaare Dybvad Bek has stressed that the government will not back a motion to ban pupils and staff from wearing hijabs in elementary schools.
The announcement came as government on Tuesday hit back a proposal from the far-right Danish People’s Party for the parliament to debate a ban on hijab in schools.
While Denmark faces “serious challenges with negative social control and oppression of young girls in certain environments”, such a ban would contravene Danish law, the minister said, The Local reported.
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“It is the legal assessment that the proposal to ban Islamic headscarves in primary schools cannot be implemented within the framework of the Constitution and Denmark’s international obligations,” he wrote.
“Therefore, the government cannot support the proposal. But we will nevertheless continue to fight honor-related coercion and oppression and negative social control,” the minister also stated.
Hijab in Schools
The decision now puts into question the government’s position on recommendations the Danish Commission for the Forgotten Women’s Struggle, a body set up by Denmark’s former government.
According to the commission’s report (PDF), the “use of scarves in elementary school can create a division between children in two groups – ‘us’ and ‘them’”.
Along with hijab ban, the commission made other recommendations including providing Danish language courses, promoting modern child upbringing practices in ethnic minority families, and strengthening sexual education in elementary schools.
This hijab ban proposal has sparked a backlash in Denmark, as several thousands of people took to the street of Copenhagen to protest the proposal.
Islam is Denmark’s largest minority religion. According to the World Population Review published in 2019, 313,713 Muslims live in Denmark, or approximately 5.40% of the population.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not just a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
In a poll conducted by Voxmeter on behalf of news agency Ritzau, 56.1 of respondents said ‘no’ to a ban on the hijab at schools.
A significantly lower proportion of 28.2 percent said ‘yes’ to such a ban while 15.7 percent answered ‘don’t know’.