Girls Pressured to Wear Hijab at Norwegian School

"Just a small gesture." "Pretty, colorful, and glittering hijabs." Has the assistant principal asked herself the simple question: what is the purpose of dressing up children in hijabs? Has she pondered the question of why pretty much all the Muslim girls wear hijabs? And one more thing: how can it be that SFO has hijabs lying around waiting to be passed out to little girls? When did it become SFO's job to carry out this kind of missionary work? It may also be relevant to ask, given that about 95 percent of the pupils have immigrant backgrounds: does SFO also hand out jeans to those girls whose personal development is hampered by the fact that they wear these garments that cover them up? That would perhaps have been seen as something more than a "gesture."

The lack of understanding exhibited by the school authorities in this case is disturbing. HRS has for many years tried to convey the simple message that the first victims of religious compulsion are Muslims themselves. If the process continues, non-Muslims will be the next to be affected. It must be recognized that this is now the situation, something that may have been practiced over a period of time without the knowledge of the school authorities. But the school authorities don't seem to grasp what is going on in the schoolyard and inside the school building. The same authorities have also allowed posters in the school announcing Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. Last Ramadan, posters hung in the corridors announcing prayer meetings. Depicted on the poster is a little girl, heavily draped in white hijab and a loose-fitting coat and clutching a Koran. The prayer meetings for the children are divided by sex, the school source tells us.

It is tempting to ask: Would the principal have allowed a Christian denomination to carry out missionary work in their school involving the subjugation of females? Would the principal have permitted Christian revival meetings in the school?

Vahl School, and likely a number of other schools in Oslo and other immigrant-heavy neighborhoods, obviously has a problem identifying its own essential culture and values. When one cannot manage to stand up for our democracy's fundamental values, one is allowing oneself, of course, to be seduced by "the others," out of a misbegotten respect for tolerance and so-called diversity.

The example that Vahl School illustrates clearly is why hijab and other such religious symbols must be removed from daycare centers, SFO, grade school, and high school. From the universities, hospitals, and all public institutions where employees are in contact with customers and with the public. To be sure, there is little reason to believe that this will happen within, let us say, the next decade. We have political leaders and a press corps that can best be characterized as self-satisfied paper dolls. A powerful struggle for values is going on right under their noses -- but they are blinded, they are lazy, they are ignorant, they are cowardly. And, quite simply, they do not give a moment's thought to the Norway of tomorrow.

This article originally appeared in Norwegian at the website of Human Rights Service and has been translated by Bruce Bawer.