Catholic school may ban Islamic headscarves, Amsterdam court rules

Imane MahssanA Catholic secondary school in Volendam is within its right to ban pupils from wearing Islamic headscarves, Amsterdam appeal court said on Tuesday.

The court said independent schools, such as the Don Bosco College, can set standards to uphold their own values, as long as they apply the rules consistently. This is the case at the Volendam school, the court said.

In addition, the pupil was well aware the school was a Catholic institution when she applied and should have realised that adopting Islamic dress would not be allowed.

The school in the former fishing village introduced the ban several months after Imane Mahssan had requested permission to wear a headscarf and had begun doing so. She was then banned from attending lessons.

The girl’s father took the case to the Equal Opportunities Commission. It ruled in the girl’s favour, but the school decided to ignore the ruling, prompting the girl to go to court. It found in favour of the school, prompting the girl to take the case to appeal.

Dutch News, 6 September 2011