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Dutch court upholds ban on religious headscarves in Catholic school

A Dutch court in the Amsterdam district of Haarlem on Monday upheld [CGB press release, in Dutch] a ban on Islamic headscarves [JURIST news archive] at Don Bosco College [academic website, in Dutch], a Catholic school in Volendam. The court stressed that a prohibition on headscarves is in line with the schools interest in maintaining its Catholic character and held that the ban on headscarves does not constitute religious discrimination because hats and similar attire are also banned. The court chose to uphold the ban despite a finding [materials, in Dutch] by the country's Equal Treatment Commission (CGB) [official website, in Dutch] that the practice of banning headscarves amounts to religious discrimination. The suit originated when a student at Don Bosco filed a complaint with the CGB alleging that the schools practice of banning headscarves constituted religious discrimination. It is unclear whether the decision will be appealed.

Religious headscarves have been banned in schools in several European countries. In 2009, a similar ban was instituted in all Dutch-speaking Belgium schools [JURIST report] in the northern region of Flanders. In 2008, the Dutch government announced plans to ban burqas [JURIST report] in schools. In that same year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] unanimously ruled [JURIST report] that there was no human rights violation when a French school expelled two students in 1999 for refusing to remove their headscarves. In 2004, France banned religious clothing and symbols in public schools [JURIST report]. A German court has upheld a similar ban [JURIST report].

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