Sharia Alert from modern, moderate Malaysia. “UCAN: ‘Muslim attire’ irritates non-Muslim schoolgirls,” from UCA News (thanks to Designnut):
PADANG, Indonesia (UCAN) — Stefanus Prayoga Ismu Rahardi felt bad seeing his daughters’ discomfort at having to wear the Muslim head covering that conceals a girl or woman’s ears, neck and hair, as part of their school attire.
“The first time I saw them in jilbab, I could sense they were uncomfortable,” the father of three daughters told UCA News Aug. 25. “They did not know how to wear jilbab and got angry,” he recalled. “They were irritated.”
Agustina, his eldest daughter, is studying at a public junior high school. His second daughter, Yashinta, is studying at a public vocational school. Both schools are in Padang, capital of West Sumatra province, 880 kilometers (about 545 miles) northwest of Jakarta.
The 44-year-old Catholic recalled that in July, during the first days of the school year, teachers often asked his daughters why they did not wear the head covering to school. “I suggested they wear jilbab,” he continued, so they would not have to answer the same question over and over again. But he also advised them to regard it as only “an accessory.”
“They were in a difficult situation. They had no choice,” explained Rahardi, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Padangbaru.
The long dress and long-sleeved shirts characteristic of Muslim attire are more decent than the short dresses and short-sleeved shirts generally worn by students in other regions, he admitted. “But personally, I do mind if non-Muslim schoolgirls have to wear jilbab, because it is identified with Islam.”
Since 2002, almost all 19 districts and towns in the province have put into effect local bylaws (Perda, Indonesian acronym) or decrees by mayors and district heads that stipulate mandatory attire for Muslims.
Solok district, for example, issued Perda No. 6/2002. Meanwhile, Limapuluh Kota, Sawahlunto Sijunjung and Agam districts have Perda No. 58/2003, Perda No.2/2003 and Perda No. 6/2005, respectively.
Mayor Fauzi Bahar of Padang issued an instruction obliging all Muslim students from the elementary to senior-high levels to wear Muslim attire.
Bonifasius Bakti Siregar, a staff member of West Sumatra’s directorate general for Catholic Community Guidance, says such requirements have strong psychological affects on non-Muslim schoolgirls, who will look different from most of their classmates if they do not wear Muslim attire.
Non-Muslim girls studying at public schools find themselves in a difficult situation, he told UCA News. “They wish they could attend Catholic or Protestant-run schools where they are not obliged to wear jilbab, but these schools do not exist in the rural areas or towns.”