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Australian PM rejects school headscarf ban

[JURIST] Australian Prime Minister John Howard [official website] rejected a proposal Monday that Muslim girls be forbidden from wearing headscarves in public schools, saying that banning headscarves only would be impractical and banning headscarves only would be inconsistent. The suggestion was made by two members of Howard's Liberal Party [party website], Bronwyn Bishop [official profile] and Sophie Panopoulos [official profile], who called headscarves "an iconic item of defiance." Muslim Women's Association [official website] president Maha Krayem Abdo said it was "dangerous to go down that path" of banning religious freedoms. Some European nations have taken steps to restrict religious dress in schools and in the workplace. France adopted a public school ban [JURIST report] last year on conspicuous religious insignia [JURIST news archive], such as Muslim headscarves, Jewish yarmulkes, Sikh turbans and large Christian crosses. A state assembly in Germany has approved a law banning teachers from wearing headscarves [JURIST report], and Denmark's High Court allowed employers to prohibit headscarves at work [JURIST report]. Aljazeera has more. Australia's ABC News has local coverage.

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