A German primary school has banned students, staff and parents from wearing a burqa or niqab on school premises, and even claims to have gained the full support of local Muslim organisations in the process.
Teachers and parents at the Adolf-Clear Creek Elementary School in Düsseldorf’s Holthausen worked together to draw up the new rules, which state that any face veils are strictly forbidden on school premises. Parents visiting teachers or picking up their children will also have to remove veils before entering the school.
The school’s head-teacher, Susanne Hartwig told RP Online there was no specific reason for the ban, other than wanting to promote a community spirit within the school. Other new rules working towards the same ends make it mandatory for all students to attend a common breakfast, as well as swimming, sports and music lessons.
“We don’t want to exclude anyone. On the contrary, we are talking about open communication and the ability to know who you are communicating with”, Hartwig said. She added that no sanctions had been put in place, saying “For us it is not about sanctions, we would always seek to engage using dialogue and persuasion.”
Feedback from the parents has been uniformly positive. One father said “Some children were afraid when some women came to the school grounds wrapped in dark brown full-body veil”
Another said that it was “legitimate” and “necessary” to define the standards of interpersonal communication set by western democracies as the binding rule. He believes that the full face veil has no part to play in modern western democracies.
And even the local Muslim community has been supportive. Abdelaaziz Fachrou, CEO of Masijd Assalam which is currently constructing a large mosque in Düsseldorf, said that rules to prohibit the face veil were “absolutely fine” in schools.
Likewise Dirk Sauer Born, who works with an anti-Salafist organisation said: “Such obfuscation is not a religious obligation, rather it is rooted in traditions. At school, the veil contributes to exclusion rather than to integration.”