“Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That’s why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it.” — Barack Obama, Cairo, June 4, 2009
But who will go to court, in the U.S. or Australia or anywhere else, to protect the right of women and girls not to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it?
“Teachers at Islamic College of South Australia’s West Croydon campus ordered to wear hijab or face sack,” by Bryan Littlely in The Australian, February 11 (thanks to Kenneth):
An Adelaide Islamic school wants its teachers to wear the hijab for school functions, or they could be sacked.
SOUTH Australia’s biggest Islamic school has warned teachers, including many non-Muslims, that they will lose their jobs if they do not wear a hijab to school functions and outings.
Up to 20 non-Muslim female teachers, who do not wish to be named, have been told they will be sacked from the Islamic College of South Australia’s West Croydon campus after three warnings if they do not wear a headscarf to cover their hair.
The order, from the school’s governing board and chairman Faruk Kahn, contradicts the policy of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.
Mr Kahn yesterday referred The Advertiser to AFIC for comment on the matter. “I have no comment … I think you better go to AFIC, they are the only ones that are to make comment,” Mr Kahn said.
School principal Kadir Emniyet did not return calls.
AFIC assistant secretary Keysar Trad said the policy was at odds with the national federation, but it was powerless to intervene.
“I’m aware there’s a policy at that school with respect to the scarf,” Mr Trad said.
“The AFIC policy is not to require any teacher to observe the hijab. In SA, the board itself has decided they want to operate in their way and we are not allowed to interfere in the matter.
“We maintain that staff should dress modestly but not be required by the nature of policy to wear the hijab.”
Mr Trad said that matters of unfair dismissal resulting from teachers disobeying the school’s hijab policy should be referred to Fair Work Australia.
“It’s confusing for our children to see their teachers wearing the scarf in school and then they take it off when they are out shopping and the children see them there,” he said.
“It is also a respect thing for our staff. If they are not Muslim they should not be forced to dress as Muslim.”
One long-term teacher at the Islamic College of SA said a new school board was now “forcing teachers to put hijabs back on”.
“There’s no discussion … you wear it or you’re fired,” the teacher said. “The teachers have always adhered to the policies and we are respectful of that.
“We are respectful of their religion but they are not going to respect us.”
Ain’t that always the way.