Young Muslim women leave Prague nursing school over hijab ban

Two Muslim girls left a nursing secondary school in Prague as they were not permitted to wear their hijabs, being the first to have ended their studies for this reason in the Czech Republic, Czech Television (CT) said Friday. CT said the case would probably end up with the ombudsman’s office and lawyers were considering filing an anti-discrimination lawsuit.

The principal of the Prague school Ivanka Kohoutova said the school had made no mistake. She said since the law did not define the wearing of hijab, schools could create their own rules. However, human rights organisations are of the view that this is discrimination and intervention in personality rights, CT said.

When entering the school, the two Muslim girls, one Somali woman, aged 23, and an Afghan woman, 25, found out that teaching in hijab was impossible, it added.

“The principal summoned me and told me: ‘If you want to be in the school, you must not wear the scarf.’ I said this was against my religion as I am a Muslim,” Nasra, one of the women, told CT. She offered to wear the hijab in a way that would only cover her hair. The principal did not like this either. Nasra left the school on the same day.

The second Muslim woman, named Zelmina, said she would try it, CT said. After two months, she is leaving, too. “I was in the classroom and I could not concentrate myself. I could not do anything as I constantly had to think of my missing something. Why am I without the scarf here? I have my rights and religion,” Zelmina told CT.

The school is of the view that wearing headgear is banned by the school rules, the principal said. She said the school was attended by a large number of foreign students from four continents, but a similar problem had never occurred. She said the students primarily disagreed with the compulsory physical education and the conditions of compulsory practice. The Muslim girls have dismissed the allegation.

Czech law does not regulate the wearing of headgear, CT said.

ČTK, 11 November 2013