A 32-year-old Amsterdam Muslim is challenging the decision by an Islamic school not to employ her because she refuses to wear a headscarf.Samira Haddad, a teacher of Arabic, has asked the equality commission to rule Islamic College in Amsterdam was wrong to demand she cover her head in order to work there
I read “Reading Lolita in Tehran” last year and one of the stories that struck me was the author’s mother, who was a devout Muslim. When head coverings were banned she was against that as she wanted to wear a hajib, as a demonstration of her faith. She was equally AGAINST the law that head coverings were compulsory as it meant that her act was no longer a demonstration of faith and something to be proud of, but merely following a regulation.
This case reminds me of that a little, in that it’s about women making choices within Islam.
The school holds wearing a head covering is specified for women in the Koran and therefore is required of muslim women teachers (non muslims can be exempt). The teacher says it isn’t required in the Koran and points out that she’s studied at an islamic school and worked in many muslim countries without wearing a headscarf and without having a problem. If she weren’t Muslim they’d hire her.
So a theological difference of opinion relating to Islam, will now be resolved in a western court applying rules of discrimination. It’s enough to make your head spin.
For more detail on some of the current issues in the Netherlands, yesterday’s article in the International Herald Tribune is a good read.