Hundreds of women and their children demonstrated in Brussels on Saturday to calling for the veil and all other religious clothes or symbols to be banned from schools.
At the moment the veil is worn at the discretion of an individual school’s headmaster, or not. Now Belgium’s 40 percent French-speakers want the same law as passed in Belgium’s Flemish half, which bans the veil. “I had long, braided hair, so they would take the lower part of my veil, and wound it into my braids.” says one women’s rights worker. But the women’s groups are split; some prefer to stress free choice, others the risk of indoctrination of the young; “The Flemish are spot on, because their law preserves the ideas of diversity and equality among pupils, pupils who are the adults of tomorrow. So we are demanding that the French speaking community takes the same decision,” says another women’s representative. Two weeks ago some 700 mostly Catholic schools in northern Belgium banned the wearing of the veil at school, creating fierce debate at the start of the new school year.