Dutch schools may impose headscarf code

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The Equal Treatment Commission has ruled that schools have a say in the way in which students wear headscarves.

The commission was responding to the case of the Gerrit Rietveld College in the city of Utrecht, where 50 students objected to a new dress code. This only allows Muslim girls to cover their heads as long as 90 percent of the face remains visible. Headgear which covers the chin or eyebrows, for example, is regarded as hindering communication between student and teacher.

The commission has backed the college and says the question of communication is of sufficient importance. It also noted that the code applies to everyone. Hairstyles which cover the eyes are also banned.

The equality commission recently reprimanded a college in the town of Volendam for imposing a headscarf ban on the grounds that they conflicted with its Roman Catholic principles. This was judged a case of religious discrimination.

The commission's rulings are not legally binding.


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