Controversial Hijab Boycott Proposed in Denmark

Another proposal to ban Muslim headscarves in Danish primary schools has sparked a heated debate and reaction in Denmark.

The Danish Commission for the Neglected Ladies’ Battle, established by Denmark’s ruling Social Progressive faction, has suggested a government ban on hijabs (Muslim headscarves) for students in Danish primary schools.

The proposal, introduced on August 24, is part of a series of nine recommendations aimed at preventing “honor-related social control” of young girls from minority backgrounds.

Among the other recommendations are providing Danish language courses, promoting modern child-rearing practices in ethnic minority families, and strengthening sexual education in primary schools.

Hijab Boycott
Controversial Hijab Boycott Proposed in Denmark 3

Fifteen-year-old Huda Makai Asghar, a tenth-grade student at Kokkedal Skole, expressed her concern over the proposed ban. Asghar, who has been wearing the hijab for years, believes that the ban would infringe upon her freedom and that of other girls who choose to wear the headscarf. She emphasized that the hijab is an integral part of her identity.

The proposed ban has generated a strong response in Denmark. Iram Khawaja, an academic administrator at the Danish Institute of Schooling and co-founder of the Expert Psychology Association Against Discrimination, has been vocal in opposing the ban.

Khawaja’s research focuses on the integration of children from religious and ethnic minorities into Danish society. She believes that a ban would not address the underlying issues faced by girls subjected to social control. Khawaja argues that comparing the hijab with negative social control is misleading, as negative social control can affect girls who do not wear the hijab as well.

According to the commission’s report, wearing headscarves in primary school can create a division between children, categorizing them as “us” and “them.” However, Khawaja points out that a 2018 study on negative social control showed that only a small percentage of Danish schoolgirls, regardless of their religious background, experience social control. She argues that presenting the ban proposal has already stigmatized and cast doubt on a large group of religious minorities.

Solitary Jørgensen, the head of Tilst Skole, a primary school in Jutland, also opposes the proposed ban. Jørgensen believes that it would create a barrier between children and their parents, undermining the principle of equal value for all individuals within the school community.

On August 26, thousands of people took to the streets of Copenhagen to protest against the proposed ban. Lamia Ibnhsain, a midwife and activist, organized the event called “Hands off our hijabs.” She believes that the proposal has marginalized Muslim women and their voices within Danish society. Ibnhsain emphasizes that Muslim women who wear the hijab are active participants in Danish society and should not be treated differently.

The Danish Commission for the Neglected Ladies’ Battle, while presenting the recommendations unanimously on August 24, later faced some dissenting opinions. Two members withdrew their support for the hijab ban after the ensuing debate, and one member even withdrew from the commission entirely, expressing her inability to support the ban.

In response to criticism, the secretariat behind the commission stated that its objective was to ensure that all women from minority backgrounds have equal rights and opportunities as other Danish women. They pointed to research indicating differences in social control experienced by ethnic minority girls compared to ethnic Danish girls, highlighting the commission’s aim to address and level such disparities.

The proposed hijab ban continues to fuel discussion and controversy as the future of religious expression in Danish primary schools hangs in the balance.

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