Muslim professor calls for calm in response to Catholic school’s head scarf ban
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—A university professor of the Western Mindanao State University called for calm and dialogue after reports surfaced that a local school run by Roman Catholic nuns have banned the use of the hijab head scarf.
Professor Alih Aiyub, secretary-general of the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines, said the problem started when a parent complained about the matter to City Councilor Melchor Sadain, who then authored a resolution asking the city government to verify with the Pilar College if there was such policy.
“It turned out that they have such a policy. But still we don’t want to make it a big issue at this time because we are doing our dialogue,” Aiyub, also the coordinator of the peace group Salam, said.
“We are still conducting internal, low-level dialogue with the school administration,” he said.
Aiyub admitted that they were the ones who advised parents not to speak with media “because we don’t want the issue to end up like it’s a conflict between Muslims and Christians.”
Aiyub said they have been advocating religious freedom and would continue to do so, particularly in this issue.
“It is not just about Christian schools imposing such policy, but also Muslim schools (madrasah) that offer special classes on Arabic for non-Muslims and may have been imposing the policy,” he said.
“Kung may mga Muslims na ayaw magsuot ng hijab, karapatan nila ’yon. Kung may mga Christians naman taking Arabic classes na hindi comfortable gumamit ng hijab sa loob ng Madaris (plural form of madrasah) karapatan din nila ’yon. (If there are Muslims who don’t want to wear hijab, that’s their right. If there are Christians who are taking Arabic classes and who are not comfortable to wear a hijab in Madaris, it is also their right not to wear the hijab.) What we are opposing is the imposition of policy where a student is banned if she goes to school wearing a hijab,” he said.
The Pilar College is run by nuns of the Religious of the Virgin Mary.
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