Parents protest as Senegalese Catholic school enforces Islamic headscarf ban

Dakar, Senegal, Sep 7, 2019 / 02:58 pm (CNA).- A prestigious Catholic school in the Senegalese capital of Dakar is going ahead with a ban on students wearing Islamic headscarves, local media is reporting.

The Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc Institute in Dakar, run by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, made the decision several months ago, reports, and as a result students who came to school wearing headscarves were not allowed to remain at school.

The school includes primary, secondary, and post-baccalaureate education. The school began during the 2014-2015 school year.

Some parents have called for government action and have threatened to file complaints against the school.

The West African country of Senegal is about 96% Muslim; the 4% or so that are Christian are mostly Catholic. The government is officially secular.

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  1. This is the politics of garb at its worst! Mother Mary wore a veil. Most nuns and sisters wear a veil. The veil is the symbol of female modesty universally around the world and has been for countless generations. By refusing to allow young Muslim maids to wear their version of the veil, we are tacitly saying that they are unworthy to assume the God given virtue of modesty. It’s a poor and discriminatory decision.

    • I have no problem at all with the school’s banning “Islamic headscarves.”

      “Most nuns and sisters wear a veil.” Yes, because they are nuns and sisters; that doesn’t apply to every woman.

      “Mother Mary wore a veil.” There seems to be some discussion about what Jewish women of New Testament times, including Our Lady, wore. But in any event, it was unlikely to be an Islamic headscarf.

      “By refusing to allow young Muslim maids to wear their version of the veil, we are tacitly saying that they are unworthy to assume the God given virtue of modesty.” No, we are not tacitly saying that. I could as accurately say “By allowing Muslim girls to wear their version of the veil, we are tacitly agreeing that Moslems have the say-so on what contstitutes modesty, and that anybody who doesn’t weir an Islamic veil is ipso facto immodest.”

      I note this from another website: “In a country where 95 percent of the population is Muslim, banning the Islamic headscarf even in a Catholic school is considered unacceptable and against the principle of secularism in education in Senegal.” Oh, reeeeeeally? Telling people who are attending a religious school that they aren’t allowed to wear the headgear of a different religion while at school is somehow “against the principle of secularism?”

  2. To echo Anne, infra, I was at early Mass this morning, the Latin Mass in our Parish, which I find spiritually transformative. Two pews in front was a couple clearly from the Mideast, and the wife was wearing a typical middle eastern headscarf. The tradition may have migrated other places with Islamic conquest but the scarf and its common use is a very old regional tradition, long pre-dating Islam, reflecting modesty. Of all the things that might be considered objectionable about Islam, that is not one of them and I hope Catholics anywhere do not succumb to reactionary bigotry.

    • Thomas, I was watching a film series about St. Teresa of the Andes & all the women portraying her family in the early 20th Century wore solid black coverings in church-almost from head to toe. It looked very similar to what women wear today in Iran.
      I’m assuming that tradition came to South America via Spain & perhaps to Spain originally from the Moorish conquest.

  3. Perhaps considering the sectarian violence Christians have suffered in Africa recently there may be reasons we’re not aware of for this action taken by the school?

    Just to mention, my Mennonite friends wear headcoverings all the time, as do the Amish & other Christian girls & women. It’s not so much about modesty, though their dress also reflects that virtue, but they understand the headcovering as more about what women wear in prayer. And since their whole lives are lived in prayer, so the covering is always worn too.

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