Muslim Community Lobby Ireland is an independent organization established 1st May 2007. Its motto is TO USE THE VOTE RIGHTLY AND TO RAISE THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY AWARNESS WITH THEIR RIGHTS AND TO PROMOTE TOLERANCE AND UNDERSTANDING OF OTHER EXISTING GROUPS. لترشيد استعمال الصوت الانتخابي ولتوعية وتعريف المسلمين بحقوقهم في ايرلندا وان يعيشوا بتفهم للواقع وللجماعات الاخرى الموجودة على الساحة

Friday, August 15, 2008

No directive for schools on use of Islamic scarf

THE GOVERNMENT has decided not to issue a directive to schools on the wearing of the Islamic hijab headscarf by pupils, Minister of State for Integration Conor Lenihan has indicated.
However, it will provide general guidelines on how such matters might be handled. A statement on the matter is to be made by Mr Lenihan next week.
Speaking at the Parnell summer school in Avondale, Co Wicklow, yesterday, he said over 4,000 school principals had been consulted on the issue "and we received lots and lots of e-mails". "The overwhelming evidence is that it [the hijab] is not an issue in schools," he said. This also applied to "other forms of clothing".
Mr Lenihan wrote to the school principals in June to seek their views on the issue, after being asked by Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe to examine whether national guidelines were required on the wearing of "certain types of clothing for religious reasons at school".
The previous month a school principal in Gorey, Co Wexford, had called on the Minister for Education to issue guidelines on the wearing of the hijab in State schools.
This followed the department's refusal to offer advice to the school when a Muslim couple asked last September that their daughter be allowed to wear the hijab in class. Mr Lenihan said yesterday that many principals had "expressed surprise it had become an issue at all".
"There are no examples of schools where it has been an issue. But there are plenty examples of where it has been accommodated," he said.
His statement next week would "reflect that ethos", he said.
Mr Lenihan said he would not see why, "if things are going well locally, there was a need for regulatory zeal or over-regulation in an area which appears regulated at the moment. I am not keen on over-regulation."
The principal who raised the issue in May, Nicholas Sweetman of Gorey Community School, said official direction would bring an end to the practice of schools imposing divergent policies and would clarify the issue for schools and Muslim parents.
Correspondence released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the school wrote to then minister for education Mary Hanafin last October, when a Muslim couple asked that their child be allowed wear the hijab in class. Though this contravened rules on uniforms, the principal agreed, pending approval by the board of management. The school, where 85 out of some 1,500 students come from a foreign background, later decided to continue to allow the pupil to wear her hijab.

© 2008 The Irish Times