Labour and Fine Gael call for hijab school ban

Below is an article in today’s Irish Independent. Fine Gael and Labour education spokespersons have called for a hijab ban in schools.It is presumptious of many commentators to refer to Ireland as a Christian country. Ireland is a country of many religions and none. The potential policy of Brian Hayes Fine Gael TD would be to contribute to the exclusion of muslims from the mainstream of Irish society. As it is, the education system in Ireland is extremely segregated with schools not reflecting the communities in the localities they serve, due to the patronage system. Some schools have more than 50% immigrants and others have 0%.Muslims should be accepted in the mainstream of education. The comments from both TD’s send out the wrong message to not only muslims in Ireland but to society as a whole. Already there is grave risk of our society becoming a divided society. There is no basis to creating this division. Politicians creating this division by making these statements risk inciting division on the ground and in the communities. Verbal utterances by politicians can be fighting in the school yard. Both Fine Gael and Labour should clarify their policies on this matter. Mr Quinn’s insinuation that ‘nobody has formally invited them here’ can be read as ‘they should go back to where they come from’. As a significant number of muslims in Ireland have come through the asylum system, is he suggesting that they risk the experience of persecutionSurely the opposition parties should be driving the integration agenda. Politicians have a responsibility to promote understanding of diversity. They have a responsibility to provide real solutions to real problems. Hijab bans have only the the potential for a negative outcome, resulting from exclusion, segregation, ignorance and more.Muslim girls should not be allowed to wear a headscarf in public schools, the two main opposition parties said last night.Labour’s Ruairi Quinn said immigrants who come to Ireland need to conform to the culture of this country. “If people want to come into a western society that is Christian and secular, they need to conform to the rules and regulations of that country,” the Labour spokesman on education and science told the Irish Independent.His comments come amid mounting controversy over guidelines on the wearing of the hijab, commonly worn by Muslim girl in state schools.His stance on the issue was backed by his Fine Gael counterpart Brian Hayes, who says it makes “absolute sense” that there is one uniform for everyone.Mr Quinn said immigrants should live by Irish laws and conform to Irish norms. “Nobody is formally asking them to come here. In the interests of integration and assimilation, they should embrace our culture,” he said. He added: “Irish girls don’t wear headscarves. A manifestation of religious beliefs in such a way is unacceptable and draws attention to those involved. I believe in a public school situation they should not wear a headscarf.”Mr Hayes said Ireland should not be going down the route of multiculturalism.Last night, a spokesperson for Integration Minister Conor Lenihan said he had no problem with students wearing the hijab. “For those that wear the hijab, it’s an issue of modesty. It’s not so long since Irish women wore headscarves to church, so we have to respect that,” the spokesperson said.

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