Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has refused to intervene after a school banned a Muslim girl from wearing the hijab — a veil worn by Muslim women and girls.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has taken up the case, insisting it is not acceptable for a school to insist the traditional Muslim form of dress cannot be worn.
The 11-year-old girl’s parents have asked for Mr Boyd Barrett’s to help to get the ban overturned at a school in his Dún Laoghaire constituency.
Mr Boyd Barrett says the child is being discriminated against on religious grounds in a way that would never be tolerated if a Christian symbol such as a crucifix had been banned.
The girl is due to start at the school later this month and Mr Boyd Barrett has insisted that the minister become involved in the case.
“This is a human rights’ issue, not just a uniform one. It is the right to religious expression. The hijab is not a threat to anyone.
“As the school is funded by the State, the minister has an obligation to ensure all children are treated equally and free from discrimination based on religion and dress.
“If pupils are allowed to wear a crucifix, why not a hijab?
“This could be the only school in the area available to the girl and she has a right to access education.”
Mr Quinn said he would not intervene. In his response to a parliamentary question by Mr Boyd Barrett, he said: “In accordance with the provisions of the Education Act 1998, the board of management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school.
“Individual school authorities are responsible for the drawing up of a school policy in relation to the wearing of school uniforms.
“My department recommends that the formulation of such a school policy should allow for prior consultation with teachers, parents, and pupils where appropriate and enable any concerns to be raised and considered.
“Decisions regarding school uniforms are, however, a matter for each individual school.”
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