Monday, 08 July 2019 17:12

Kandy DIRC Supports Muslim Women

Kandy District Inter Religious Committee (DIRC) moved swiftly to diffuse tension caused by a dispute over the wearing of the hijab by teachers in a Kandy girls’ school.

The principal and the parents of the school had prohibited seven Muslim teachers from wearing the hijab, although it had been their attire for many years and despite the law stating that only faces could not be covered. The teachers were told to wear saris instead.

The reason given was that children were afraid of seeing their teachers in that attire after the Easter Sunday attacks around the country.

The teachers, who were not allowed to come to the school, made a complaint to the DIRC, which took immediate steps to resolve the problem before it escalated.

DIRC members raised the issue with senior police officers and Provincial Education Ministry officials as well as the Governor of the Central Province and the Kandy office of the Human Rights Commission.

The Human Rights Commission had a meeting with Education Ministry officials, the school principal, parents, the Muslim teachers and DIRC members to investigate the issue.

The Commission rejected the decision made by the principal and parents to ban the hijab and advised them to allow the teachers to return wearing their preferred attire. The Commission sent its ruling to relevant government institutions and the police for implementation but the ban was not reversed due to interference from extremist groups. Instead, the Provincial Education Ministry transferred the teachers to a Muslim school in the area, saying it was a temporary measure until a new circular was released by the government on Muslim teachers’ dress code in schools.

Kandy DIRC was planning to file a fundamental rights case about the matter.