Liège Court of Appeal declared on Friday that the Verviers public school internal regulation which bans the wearing of conspicuous signs of religious beliefs at school, to be non-discriminatory. The intended actions by the NPO Justice and Democracy, and a Muslim family which opposed the rule have been declared unfounded.
In June 2013, Verviers town council adopted an internal regulation for schools which banned anyone from wearing conspicuous philosophical signs (any religion) at school. This was a general ban which targeted not only religious beliefs, but also moral and political or philosophical convictions. The only exception to this concerned signs worn discreetly.
The ban of veils in Verviers schools stemmed from this rule which was enforced at the start of the 2013 school year. The NPO Justice and Democracy, as well as the family of a 12-year-old girl counterattacked this rule by citing it as discriminatory. The first trial decision stated that the rule did not discriminate.
Liège Court of Appeal came to the same conclusion and declared the council regulation provides no evidence of discrimination. The court ruled that the regulation represents a general and unspecific ban and that the neutral character of the regulation does not promote discrimination. According to Verviers town’s counsel, the internal regulation may even provide a model for other academic establishments. Counsel Serge Marcy stresses: “Nothing is stopping other authorities imposing an internal regulation of this type.”