Monday, January 18

A Moroccan court forces a Catholic school to admit a veiled student

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A Moroccan court has forced a Catholic school from the city of Kenitra (center) to admit a veiled student arguing that the right to education takes precedence over school regulations, ending the first trial in Morocco on such a controversial issue in Europe.

As they related to Efe sources of the Don Bosco School, from the city of Kenitra, about 40 kilometers north of Rabat, the girl who studies in the first year of secondary school (that is, she is 12 years old) and who had been at the center for five years, appeared one day in class with her head covered , on November 1.

The school – explained the sources – has an internal regulation that prevents students of any age from wearing their heads covered, whether it was a scarf or a cap, and for this reason they told her that she could not access the center with the veil, so the girl was sent home.

Two days later, the girl returned to her mother and a bailiff to take note of the ban, and filed a complaint against the school.

Eight Kenitra lawyers came forward to defend the girl’s right to wear the veil, something that reveals “the political character” that was intended to give to the matter, according to what the director of the school, Alain Beylot, told Efe.

With surprising speed, the judge ruled on November 25 that the right to education prevailed over internal regulations, and that the school should readmit the student under penalty of a daily fine of 2,000 dirhams (200 euros).

Thus, the girl was able to return to class at the end of last week, “to the applause of his peers” according to his mother told the Hespress portal; for his part, the director said that he limited himself to asking his classmates to “welcome their classmate correctly,” and ruled out that the school would file an appeal against the Kenitra judge’s ruling.

Will sit pwithdraws

The judge’s decision will undoubtedly set a precedent not only in the Don Bosco School (1,400 students), but also in the 15 establishments of the Catholic Schools of Morocco (ECAM), managed by the Archdiocese of Rabat and where some 12,000 students study, all Moroccan Muslims with rare exceptions.

To the schools of the ECAM network middle class students attend attracted by a quality education and cheaper than in other private schools, and although they are called “catholic”, the catholic religion is not taught, but the Muslim, opting for an ecumenical ideology.

The parents who choose these schools accepted -until now- the prohibition of the veil inside the school grounds as part of the regulation.

“We see that things are changing culturally. We will have to study if we change the rules of the ECAM network to find a balance with the cultural environment of these schools, “Beylot said by way of reflection.

“There was a time when this was not a problem,” he continued, referring to the popularization of the veil in many settings where it was previously testimonial.

Generalization of the veil

In Kenitra, as in all small towns and also in the humble neighborhoods of large cities, the generalization of the veil is a perceptible fact more and more clearly in recent years.

But it does not seem by chance that in the city of Kenitra, where the Don Bosco School is located, the party that dominates the municipal government is the Islamist Justice and Development (PJD), which has flagged issues such as the dress code and female decency .

These issues have been the ones that have constituted the “house brand” for the PJD and those that have allowed it to differentiate itself from the rest of the parties that claim to be secular, and also explain in some way – along with its discourse on honesty – its repeated electoral victories.

And yet the party has opted for a low profile in this veil controversy, despite being the first to break out in the country and involving the Catholic Church itself, in a country where a supposed will always hangs over foreigners. interference in local affairs.

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