#HijabisFightBack: Belgian College Students Protest Headscarf Ban Constitutional Ruling

Since the Belgian Constitutional Court ruled that a headscarf ban is allowed in higher education, twelve Belgian universities have announced they will not impose such a ban in their classrooms.

 

The Constitutional Court of Belgium made the decision to allow the ban on headscarves imposed by Francisco Ferrer Brussels university college. A group of Muslim women who were studying at Fransisco Ferrer Brussels university college, made a complaint. The Brussels court referred the case to the Constitutional Court of Belgium. At the start of June, the Constitutional Court decided that the possibility of a headscarf ban was not contrary to the Constitution or the European Convention on Human Rights. The possibility of such a ban applies to not only headscarves but all symbols expressing religious or political opinions. 

The ruling sparked backlash on social media. Students, young people and rights organizations say the decision is a violation of a basic human right. People protested the ruling by using hashtags such as, #TouchePasAMesEtudes (Don’t touch my studies) and #HijabisFightBack.

On Sunday afternoon, thousands of Brussels students gathered at the Mont Des Arts for a demonstration against the decision. The legal protest, called “Hijabis Fight Back” was organised by 24-year-old student and documentary filmmaker Fatima-Zohra Ait El-Maâti and her friends. The protest took place in the middle of their final exams.

The campaign has put pressure on Belgian universities to announce whether or not they will choose to uphold the controversial ban on their campus or not. The campaign recently paid off, with 12 Belgian universities and colleges ensuring students they “will not impose such a ban,” stressing that “religious freedom is protected in their classrooms,” according to The Brussels Times.

The Free University of Brussels tweeted a statement stating “Equality and inclusion are central to VUB. Diversity is a fact, at our university as well. So let it be clear that every student is welcome with us regardless of gender, origin or social status. With or without headscarf.”

READ MORE: Hey Instagram, Taking Down Bella Hadid’s Posts Won’t Make Her Less Palestinian