Belgian universities stress that they will not ban headscarves

Belgian universities stress that they will not ban headscarves
Credit: Belga

Over ten universities and university colleges in Belgium reaffirmed they will not impose a headscarf ban in class, despite the Constitutional Court recently ruling in that such a ban is allowed in higher education.

At the start of June, the Constitutional Court of Belgium decided that the possibility of a headscarf ban was not contrary to the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). However, the possibility for a ban does not only apply to headscarves, but to all symbols expressing religious or political opinions.

The decision was prompted by a complaint from a group of Muslim women who were studying at the Francisco Ferrer Brussels university college, which practices such a ban. The Brussels court, in turn, referred the case to the Constitutional Cout.

The ruling saw many students and young people take to social media to protest with hashtags like #TouchePasAMesEtudes (Don’t touch my studies) and #HijabisFightBack.

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One Twitter user called on all universities and university colleges to reply to the tweet with a statement of whether or not they accept people wearing headscarves. “Now and not after you’ve received the entry fees,” the tweet added.

12 higher education institutions replied to the tweet, saying that wearing a headscarf is allowed in their schools.

“Equality and inclusion are central to the VUB. Diversity is a fact, at our university as well. So let it be clear that every student is welcome with us regardless of gender, origin or social status. With or without headscarf,” the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB – Free University of Brussels) tweeted.

“Yes, you can wear a headscarf at our university,” the KU Leuven tweeted. “As a university, we offer space for religious and philosophical diversity, and respect the wearing of religious symbols or clothing,” the institution added.

Other schools that reaffirmed that wearing a headscarf or other religious symbols on campus was not a problem were Thomas More, Karel de Grote hogeschool, Erasmus Hogeschool, Hogeschool Vives, Universiteit Hasselt, Odissee, Hogeschool Gent, Arteveldehogeschool, AP Hogeschool and UAntwerpen.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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