Australia rejects Muslim headscarf ban

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has rejected suggestions by some ruling party lawmakers that Muslim girls should be banned from wearing Islamic headscarves in public schools.

    Howard wants Muslim leaders to join against extremism

    Howard, who held a landmark meeting with Muslim leaders last week to secure their support for joint action against Islamic extremism, said on Monday he did not support such a ban.

    "If you ban a headscarf you might, for consistency's sake, have to ban a yarmulke or a turban," he told reporters.

    "It does become rather difficult and rather impractical."

    Two backbenchers in Howard's Liberal Party had called for the ban with one, Bronwyn Bishop, describing headscarves in public schools as "an iconic item of defiance".

    "It's not just a headscarf, it is a challenge to our freedoms and way of life," she said.

    Australian values

    "If you ban a headscarf you might, for consistency's sake, have to ban a yarmulke or a turban"

    John Howard

    ,

    Australian prime minister

    Last week, Education Minister Brendan Nelson told reporters that Muslims who did not want to accept "Australian values" should "clear off".

    But he has refused to support the call for a ban on headscarves.

    The debate echoes that in several European countries.

    France last year prohibited the wearing of conspicuous religious insignia in state schools, including Muslim headscarves, Jewish yarmulkes, Sikh turbans and large Christian crosses.

    Australia's small Islamic community has been in the spotlight since British-born Muslims killed themselves and 52 other people in attacks in London in July, with Howard suggesting that similar attacks could take place in his country.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    As tensions over India's citizenship law shine a light on Assam, a writer explores the historical tensions in the state.

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    The story of a man who spent 19 years awaiting execution reveals the power of a false blasphemy claim to destroy a life.

    The Syrian women and girls sold into sexual slavery in Lebanon

    The Syrian women and girls sold into sexual slavery in Lebanon

    Syria's refugee crisis has shone a light on sex trafficking in Lebanon, where victims are often treated as criminals.