Ireland: Proposals include five Muslim schools

Up to five Muslim schools and six Catholic schools could be opened next year, as part of the plans for the New Schools Advisory Committee of the Department of Education. The five Muslim schools planned are for Lucan, Clonee, and Tallaght in Dublin, Tralee, Co Kerry, and Sligo – to cater for the demand of the growing Muslim population in these areas. Chairman of the North Dublin Muslim National School Shahzad Ahmed said: The Catholic schools have catered well for Muslim children but their parents might feel they are uncomfortable when it comes to teaching religion. Two Muslim schools already open in Dublin teach the same curriculum as all schools, but include Arabic language lessons, which include religious instruction.

Muslim teachers sacked for wearing headscarf

BRUSSELS – Two Muslim teachers from the Brussels public education system have been sacked for wearing an Islamic headscarf. The Muslim teachers were first issued a warning, but continued to wear their headscarves and were later sacked. They have lodged an appeal. The director of the Brussels school group, Jacky Goris, said the dismissal was correct. “In April 2005, the board of management of the Brussels school group decided that teachers, the same as students, were not allowed to wear noticeable religious symbols,” she said. “The two Muslim teachers started the school year in September 2005 in acceptance with the regulation. But around the New Year, they suddenly started wearing a headscarf. That is a breach of contract.” Goris said they could have also chosen for a pragmatic solution. “During the lessons on Islam, they were allowed to wear the headscarf the same as priests may wear a large crucifix during religious lessons.” She added: “Outside the lessons, they could have worn a discreet scarf or a little hat. I would not have had a problem with that either”. Goris denied allegations of discrimination, pointing out that the school had sacked a teacher in 2004-05 after he sent racist emails to students. It said it imposes a policy of “neutrality”. Brussels Education Minister Guy Vanhengel has backed the stance that teachers should not wear noticeable religious symbols. Flemish Education Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said schools should individually decide whether they would allow a headscarf or not. The sacked teachers are fighting their dismissal in the council of appeal, which is made up of a magistrate, supported by two public school staff members who are not part of the Brussels school group. A definitive ruling is expected at the end of this month