Hijab in School

I’m currently taking a PQP (principal’s qualification course). The big emphasis in this course is on diversity more than any other issue.  Other issues include sensitivity, allowing other people to lead, working with difficult or marginalized families. It isn’t the type of stuff you’d think lihijabke how to budget for the entire school or recognizing and reckoning with difficult teachers (that’s worse). I thought the administrator in the Hijab in Europe was a prime example of a difficult and dreadfully racist educator. Naturally this script was fiction but the point is not. At least, I’m not aware of too many admins telling girls to remove their hijabs. When she did, I felt naked looking at her. It was an obscenity; she might as well have been taking off her blouse.

Wasn’t it classic when she entered the classroom and her equally ignorant teacher insisted she be treated like everyone else? Pointing that out made her different before any of the other students had a chance to meet her. And when she looked around the classroom didn’t she witness many other types of head coverings? How do you treat someone like everyone else, anyway? I thought we were all unique individuals with our own gifts to bring to the classroom. How backward of me.

Islam instillarticle-1319804-0B952A16000005DC-450_306x423s fear in those who do not understand it.Does that little girl look frightening to you? Do you know that she herself is a victim, not only at school or on the street, but within her culture? All women are, as they suffer the status of second class citizenand are effectively owned by the patriarchy that is the Muslim culture. Would it be so wrong to support this young lady’s need to express herself? Ironically, it was a woman who took away her identification, in a culture that prides itself on democracy. (left: Bibi Aisha – Afghanistan girl who was mutilated by her husband).

Winston Churchill is an icon of mine for too many reasons to list here. However, it is clear to me that this man lacked the ability to see beyond cultural differences between the Western an Eastern worlds. One comment he made was how “dreadful are the curses Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerousbibi-aisha-has-been-fitted-with-a-prosthetic-nose-and-now-lives-in-a-shared-new-york-apartment-daily-mail-17-february-20111 in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic capacity.” Churchill said so many evil things in this statement, and by far the worse was a comparison to Islam and rabies. Oh, Churchill. You do disappoint me. He did, however, support the plight of Muslim women: “The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.”  (left: Bibi Aisha with a prosthetic nose).

Anyway this movie resonated so loudlywith me I had to blog about it. I teach in the Catholic school system, elementary panel, and I don’t tend to see children wearing hijabs, probably something to do with age. That includes students up to 13 years old. The girl in the film didn’t look much older. Some of the lines were powerful in their ignorance.

The Administrator:

  1. (in response to “I am Muslim”) I am Catholic… Everyone is the same.
  2. We don’t want differences between the students.
  3. We don’t discriminate against anybody.
  4. I think you’d be much prettier without [the hijab].
  5. You don’t want to be the weird one in class do you?

I don’t know which part of her argument was worse, each sentence became more ignorant than the last. I hope this is merely a fiction and doesn’t happen to children in school. I liksafe_imagee to think this is “just a movie.” I know the discrimination in it is not. Racism will always be with us (I probably have my biases too, as much as I hate it, and hate to admit it).  Most teaching staff I know would never make an issue out of the hijab, for legal and sometimes personal reasons. Either way, they have to remain silent, just as the students do. For some, it is hidden discrimination. This doesn’t remove discrimination or make it better, of course but at least children who need to express who they are aren’t humiliated or harassed.

Well, not verbally.

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