Islamic Human Rights Commission
06 September 2006
URGENT ALERT: Protest Hijab ban in Bulgaria
On the 28th of July this year, a Parliamentary Anti-Discrimination Commission in Bulgaria ruled that a school in Smolyan had the right to forbid two Bulgarian girls from wearing the hijab. The ruling will now make it possible for the hijab to be banned from all state schools in Bulgaria. Following on from this, a statement issued by the Bulgarian Science and Education Minister in recent weeks stated that it has been declared that those wishing to wear the Islamic hijab should attend specific Muslim schools. However, there are only three Islamic schools in Bulgaria for a population of 1.5 million Muslims out of a total population of 7.6 million.
Although not a member yet, Bulgaria is set to join the European Union in January 2007 and to do so, it must comply with the Copenhagen criteria which states that applicant countries must comply with democratic governance and human rights. It is clear that banning the hijab in schools denies Muslim girls many fundamental rights including the freedom to practice one’s religion and the right to education. Wearing the hijab is obligatory for Muslim women and so a ban is clearly an infringement on religious freedom.
It seems now that the Bulgarian government is trying to legitimize Islamophobia throughout the country. IHRC has received reports that the Bulgarian government has also decided to expel the Roma community from the industrial centres, many of whom are Muslims. Furthermore, new reports have alleged that a number of individuals are collecting signatures for the approval of a law banning the broadcasting of Azan from the mosques in Bulgaria.
France, Germany and Belgium have already prohibited the wearing of the headscarf in schools, and Norway has prohibited the wearing of the nikab in schools. Unless effective action is taken, the ban will spread throughout the whole of Europe.
Please contact your political representative, the Foreign Minister of your country, the Bulgarian Embassy in your respective countries and the EU President to condemn the law. A model letter that can be adapted as well as useful links for contacts can be found below. Please copy IHRC into any correspondence and let us know of responses.
Please send details of contacts for your country’s representatives (as below) to update this resource.
For UK Campaigners
For contact details of your MP
Details of Foreign Secretray;
Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
Fax: +44 20 7839 2417
For Bulgarian Embassies
Details of Bulgarian Embassy in UK:
Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria
186-188 Queen\’s Gate
London SW7 5HL
Telephone: 0207 5849 400
Fax: 020 7584 4948
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 09.00 – 18.00
For contact details of Bulgarian embassies around the world http://www.bulgaria.com/embassy/
For the EU President
Ms Anu Kurki
Secretariat for Finland’s EU Presidency
Tel: +358 9160 22639
Dear [insert name],
Hijab ban in Bulgaria
I am writing to protest against the recent Hijab ban in Bulgaria, and urge you to take immediate action to demand that the ban be lifted.
It is fundamental to remember that to many Muslim women, the wearing of the hijab is not merely a personal display of faith – it is an obligation imposed by her religion. It is also imperative to remember that since Bulgaria is set to join the European Union in January 2007, it must comply with the Copenhagen criteria which states that applicant countries must act in accordance with the fundamental rights of individuals including the freedom to practice one’s religion and the freedom to education.
Please use your position to campaign against the Hijab ban in Bulgaria as the ban clearly violates the freedom of religion. Basic justice demands that political representatives and those who hold influence and power take a moral stance on this issue and without hesitation condemn the ban.
I look forward to your swift action and response.
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Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75
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