The wearing of headscarves has been banned in all publicly run schools in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium. The decision, by the board of Flemish schools, affects about one fifth of all schools in Flanders.
It follows a week of demonstrations outside two schools which banned headscarves earlier this week, arguing that girls were being pressured into wearing headscarves by their families and peers. The headmistress of one of those schools, Karin Heremans, said the authorities want all pupils to be equal within the school grounds. “There is a problem when there is pressure on one group because we want to live together in reciprocity and it’s very important for us. Everyone has to feel good in this school, so a social minority here became majority. So it was a problem,” she said. Next week a court will decide if the decision is up to individual schools or should be taken at school board level which oversees the whole of Flanders. Pupils have staged protests outside the two schools at the centre of the row and one girl has filed a complaint with the Belgian Council of State to contest the ban.