Islamic Human Rights Commission
19 July 2006
URGENT ALERT: Protest Nikab ban in Norway
Last month, the Directorate for Primary and Secondary Education of Norway gave permission for the nikab (which covers the whole face except the eyes) to be banned in schools. This law denies Muslim girls many fundamental rights including the freedom to practice one’s religion and the right to education.
Erling Lae, the leader of Oslo City Council, has decided to remove the veil in schools because it causes problems for teachers who cannot see their students\’ faces. The ruling will now make it possible for the nikab to be banned from schools in other municipalities in Norway. The Oslo city councilor for schools and education has said that the nikab makes communication impossible between teachers and students and between students as well. However, under Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights, everyone has the right to freedom of religion unless it is in the interest of public safety and health. It is clear that wearing the nikab in classrooms does not pose any threats to other students and teachers. Furthermore, in some schools of thought within Islam, wearing a nikab is obligatory and so a ban is clearly an infringement on religious freedom.
France, and parts of Germany and Belgium have already prohibited the wearing of the headscarf in schools and 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 and the Norwegian Embassy in your respective countries 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.
For UK Campaigners
For contact details of your MP
Details of Foreign Secretary;
Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
Fax: +44 20 7839 2417
For Norwegian Embassies
Details of Norwegian Embassy in UK:
Royal Norwegian Embassy
25 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8QD
Telephone 020 7591 5500
Fax: 020 7245 6993
Embassy opening hours: 09.00 – 16.00
Consulate opening hours: 10.00 – 12.00
For contact details of Norwegian embassies around the world
Dear [insert name],
Nikab ban in Norway
I am writing to protest against the recent nikab ban in Norway, 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 nikab is not merely a personal display of faith – it is an obligation imposed by her religion. It is also imperative to remember that even if evidence is adduced to show that the nikab leads to communication problems in the classroom – this is not a legitimate reason under international human rights law to ban it from being worn. In fact, such a manifestation of one’s religion would be protected under ECHR provisions relating to freedom of expression and religion.
Please use your position to campaign against the Nikab ban in Norway 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.
Please copy IHRC into correspondence and send us any responses you receive.
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\”And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.\”
Holy Qur\’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75
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