Catholic School in the Netherlands May Ban Headscarves

6 September 2011

An appeal court has ruled that a Catholic secondary school in the city of Volendam may ban pupils from wearing Islamic headscarves. As an independent school, the college is permitted to set standards to uphold its values, so long as the rules are applied consistently. The case arose when student Imane Mahssan sought permission to wear a headscarf to the school; when banned from attending lessons, her father took the case to the Equal Opportunities Commission. While the EOC ruled in Mahssan’s favour, a magistrate in Haarlem disagreed: the appeals court has confirmed the judgement in favour of the school. Mahssan, it ruled, knew before joining the independent school that it was a Catholic educational institution and thus “should have realized”  that her headscarf would be problematic.