Imagine if Muslim students here on Main Campus were suddenly forbidden
to wear their religious attire such as the traditional hijab worn by some female Muslims to class. We believe it’s safe to say that the entire Temple community
would be outraged and view this mandate as a severe infringement upon those students’ freedom of religion.
This ridiculous idea isn’t so ridiculous
at all, because this is the case in Great Britain. Last Tuesday, the British Parliament gave all schools permission to forbid Muslim pupils from wearing full-face hijabs in class, if the school’s administration believed it to be appropriate.
Prime Minister Tony Blair called the traditional hijab a “mark of separation” and said that it makes “other people from outside the community feel uncomfortable.”
If someone else’s religious attires makes others feel uncomfortable – too bad. It’s called tolerance.Blair’s description of the hijab is an inaccurate blanket statement. If someone were to feel uncomfortable around a Muslim wearing the hijab, it’s his misfortune for either not making efforts to communicate with members of that community or for being uninformed. If this statement had any credibility or logic, it could be attached to so many other scenarios. People with unconventional hair colors could be interpreted as being a “mark of separation.”
Even people who choose to dress differently could be interpreted in this way. With this mentality, where would the authorities
The reasoning for the legislation is stated as one’s right to “manifest a religion or belief,” does not give allowance
to promote faith “at any time, in any place, or in any particular manner.”
Translated into layman’s terms: People are allowed to practice any religion they want, just so long as it’s not displayed.”
We’re talking about the U.K., a country whose culture is not much different
from ours. The fact that the British Parliament is even engaging in such a dialogue is a disgrace.
We’d think that the British Parliament
would have some pretty good reasons for this outrage. The Parliament states that the hijab prevents teachers from determining whether the student is engaged in class lessons. Another reason is one of security, as it claims an intruder with violent intentions could infiltrate a school with the disguise of the hijab.
The former reason has other solutions.
Simple communication with the student will answer the teacher’s questions of engagement. The latter security reason is understandable. With recent tragedies in history such as the incident at Columbine High School in Colorado and Amish school shootings in Lancaster, Pa., student safety should be paramount.
Nonetheless, restricting freedom is no way to go about keeping students safe.