New Zealand School Bans Hijab

School faces backlash for the ban that comes on the heels of last week’s terror attacks at two mosques.

An elite all girls school in Auckland, New Zealand is catching flak for banning hijabs and all other headscarves within the building. As one of the most exclusive private girls’ schools, their strict dress code is known for keeping their students within stringent guidelines.

One aspect of the headscarf ban that has come into focus is that it comes at a sensitive time. After all, one of the worst terrorist attacks in recent memories was perpetrated against Muslims at two Christchurch mosques in the last week. Fifty Muslims were killed at prayer in those attacks.

Now, in such a hard time, this measure to ban headscarves has been passed in the school, leading many to express anger and despair at the poor timing. The principal of the school, Heather McRae said the reason for the ban was to “create a sense of oneness and family” within the school. The school still celebrates inclusivity and diversity within their ranks.

Moreover, the Diocesan School for Girls’ students are welcome to wear hijabs in solidarity on a day that is going to include two minutes of silence to commemorate the individuals killed in the attacks last week.

The origin of the news about the ban started when a staff member inquired into whether headscarves were allowed on behalf of some students. This prompted a staff meeting which then resulted in a meeting with the deputy principal who brought up the fact that there was a ban on wearing headscarves and that all staff were expected to enforce the rule.

However, the fact of the matter is that this rule could be in violation of the Human Rights Act and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act since this could be tantamount to religious belief violation. Still, if the school can show that there are safety reasons for the exclusions of these items, then there could be a good reason for them to remain banned.

Still, the school insists that it wasn’t precisely a ban on the hijab, only an implied ban due to the dress code that is enforced at the school. However, it could be changed if there is a formal request for the rule to be modified by one of the families.

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