Our Flemish correspondent VH has compiled a report from several sources on the controversy (and death threats) caused by the recent decision to prohibit headscarves in the last two remaining public schools in Antwerp that allowed them:
Ban on headscarves
The ban on headscarves at the Koninklijk [Royal] Atheneum in Antwerp and the Athenaeum in Antwerp-Hoboken led to massive protests by the Muslim community beginning during the summer holidays. These were the last two secondary schools in Antwerp that permitted the wearing of headscarves. In the new school year, which begins September 1, there will be none. Three hundred pupils threatened to leave the school in protest, although they will not find a single school in Antwerp which allows headscarves. Only one school for technical (TSO) and one for special needs-education (BSO) remain.
This decision caused a great deal of fuss. A hundred Muslims (two thirds of whom are not pupils of the school) protested in the court area of the Royal Atheneum in Antwerp. The Imam Nordin Taouil, called for a school strike and even threatened a school revolt of Muslims throughout Flanders.
“The aggressive manner in which the radical Muslims responded, convinced me that the headscarf ban was the right decision,” said Karin Heremans, director of the Royal Athenaeum of Antwerp, where all political and religious symbols — including the headscarf — are now banned.
How the Imam, with whom she just had a constructive conversation, could turn 180 degrees in a second like that she still does not understand. “But we stick to our position,” she declares. “We wanted to avoid all this fuss by communicating it only after the exams.” She sighs.
The director mentions (in the Flemish newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen) that there was an increasing radicalization noticeable within the school walls. Several girls were being put under pressure to wear a headscarf. “The presence of these radical Muslims during the protests confirmed my suspicion that this effect had been slumbering for a while and even enormously increasing. The politicians should most urgently consider how to deal with this group. These radical Muslims systematically, under the guise of religious freedom, reject all democratic principles. They reject any compromise. They have the right to profess their faith, but not to impose it on others,” Karin Heremans said, who herself in the meanwhile was threatened by certain Muslims: “Those men told me that I should be whipped and must be hanged”…
Separate dressing room for Muslim girls
Despite the clear language of Director Karin Heremans, and her courage in introducing the headscarf ban in her school, there still are some remarkable things to note. The Atheneum Antwerp will arrange a special dressing room for Muslim girls, where they can take off their headscarves when they arrive and put them on before they leave. On the one hand, a ban on headscarves in the light of equal treatment, but on the other hand, a separate dressing room for Muslim girls.
Separate Sports-headscarf for Muslim girls
“It would be nice for the girls if they don’t have to change on the street in front of the school,” says director Karin Heremans. “That is why we came up with that dressing room with a mirror in the school. The idea originated with the teachers and the supervisors during discussions about the headscarf ban. If Muslim girls have to go outside school for sporting, we will offer them sports-headscarves.” (maybe like this, by the Dutch dhimmi designer Cindy van den Bremen)
Meanwhile the Royal Atheneum school principle Karin Heremans says she does not know what all the fuss is about, as the ban on the headscarf has long been in place in all other schools. She believes that many pupils attended these remaining schools for the sole reason that they still permitted the headscarf. “The pupils systematically refused to attend other schools, even after they were advised to attend classes at another school as a result of a pedagogical reorientation, simply because they were not allowed to wear a headscarf there. Students are harassing other students so that they do not dare to do anything else but cover their heads, is that what the Imam meant by ‘harmony’? Because it is indisputable that this kind of harassment is common practice. It implicitly happens. This past school year we unsuccessfully tried to deal with it through an interim measure.” (source: Kafir Harby)
To the newspaper De Morgen Karin Heremans said that she received many positive reactions, out on the street, by phone or mail. “There are even mothers of Muslim girls who came to my office to tell me that they welcome the ban. It’s a pity that the responses of the more progressive Muslims are not more open.”
“I am convinced that banning headscarves in schools is a good thing,” Dirk Verhofstadt said, who wrote the book The Third Wave of Feminism in which he interviewed six Muslim women. “Each of the women told me that she did not voluntarily wear the headscarf, but because her parents, relatives or community simply imposed it.” According to Verhofstadt the growing radicalism of many orthodox Muslim men is caused by their fear of women’s emancipation. Among Muslim women a great empowerment wave is currently underway. “They fear they will lose their power and control over mothers, sisters, and daughters, and therefore Muslim men proclaim their supposed superiority with their ‘sacred’ texts in their hands.”
The day after Director Karin Heremans announced the arrangements for a dressing room and sports-headscarves in the newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen (Aug.18), the imam and chairman of the Muslim Board, Nordin Taouil, who at beginning of the summer called for a revolt, said [Aug.19]: “those threats against the Director Karin Heremans [calling for her to be whipped and hanged] are unacceptable. These men must be punished.”
Imam Nordin Taouil
In a recent extensive report on radical mosques in Antwerp by the Flemish Committee of Ex-Muslims, published on the website of Filip Dewinter [English language article here], the imam Nordin Taouil is mentioned as an advocate of armed jihad against Westerners and Jews. “His aggressive thought and actions have led to 90% of young people in the Moskee El Mouslimin in the Antwerp feeling compelled to give their lives for the armed struggle. Nordin Taouil is also the person you should contact if you wish to pursue physical education abroad [especially Pakistan and Algeria — in both cases Al Qaeda camps: About 50% of them will be sent to Afghanistan, Kashmir, Iraq or Chechnya to fight in the interests of the jihad. The remaining 50% return to Belgium, according to the report]. Hence the Moroccan intelligence service’s infiltration in this mosque. Terrorists of the ‘Groupe Islamique Combattant Marocain’ find a safe shelter in this mosque. Many are wanted in Morocco for committing or preparing terrorist attacks.”
Nordin Taouil, who only two years ago was on invited by the Sp.a [Socialists] list to be a candidate for the municipal council of Antwerp in the elections to catch the Muslim vote for the Socialists, is now filing a defamation and libel complaint against Filip Dewinter and Vlaams Belang, for publishing the report by the Ex-Muslim Council.
So far only three girls have declared that they will go to another school.