School relents, allows use of ‘hijab’ but in 2013Philippine Daily Inquirer
ZAMBOANGA CITY—After reaping widespread criticism for barring the use by Muslim female students of veils, a Catholic school here finally gave in.
Officials of Pilar College, however, said Muslim students may start wearing the veil only in June next year.
Sr. Ma. Fe Gerodias, speaking on behalf of the school, said school officials would need time to explain why they were allowing the use of veils, known as “hijab,” by Muslim students after banning it last July.
Anne Piccio, dean of the school’s college of business administration, said allowing Muslim students to wear hijab was “not an easy or overnight decision.”
According to Piccio, it took school officials at least one month to deliberate and conduct consultation meetings on the veil policy.
Gerodias, however, said while the use of hijab will be allowed, the use of the “niqab,” or a female Muslim attire that covers the entire face, will remain banned.
Pilar College barred the use of hijab for security reasons and because the veil didn’t match the school uniform, but Muslim parents said it smacked of discrimination and violation of religious freedom.
Lawyer Yasser Apion, a Muslim, said the hijab is “not about fashion or trend for Muslims.” “It’s obligatory, and girls reaching puberty have to wear the hijab,” he said.
Piccio, who is married to a Muslim, said, while school officials agree to allow the use of hijab, the decision was met with protests by some parents and students.
“But we need to meet halfway,” Piccio said. “And the way to meet halfway is to educate everyone until we reach full acceptance,” she said.
Sister Gerodias said the school “needed time to process attitudes, mind-sets, sentiments, biases and prejudices.”
Piccio said the school administrator, Sr. Nina Balbas, “started studying Islam for her to fully understand everything.” Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao