January 12, 2010

According to a verdict presented this week by the Swedish discrimination ombudsman, Katri Linna, it’s wrong to ban a student from class for wearing a niqab.
The decision stems from an incident in January 2009 when a Muslim woman, wearing niqab, was asked to take the face veil of if she wanted to continue her training to become a pediatric nurse at an adult education center in Spånga, west of Stockholm.
The student reported the matter to the ombudsman, as an act of religious discrimination. Almost two years later – when the student has graduated from the education – the ombudsman presented her verdict. Sweden’s Parliamentary Ombudsman has criticised Linna for taking nearly two years to rule on the case.
Linna said her office has no plans to take the woman’s case to court because the she had been able to finish her studies with solid marks. This fact, the discrimination ombudsman says, has proven that her headscarf didn’t present an obstacle to attending lectures. Nor were there any problems related to her interactions with teachers or other students.
From the now ongoing debate over the verdict, we can tell the last word is not yet said in this issue.

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