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Muslim students protest against headscarf ban

Activists have staged a demonstration dubbed Hijabis Fight Back in Brussels to protest against the Belgian Constitutional Court's ruling issued on Saturday, which says the ban on wearing Muslim headscarves in universities does not violate any religious rights or philosophical principles.

An estimated 1,200 to 1,500 Muslim women, shouting and carrying banners, took part in a demonstration in Mont des Arts Square in Brussels. The participants of what was promoted on social media as the Hijabis Fight Back event, staged a protest to reject discrimination against Muslims. Demonstrators shouted slogans such as "Take your hands off my headscarf" or "Take your hands off my studies", the online version of the Belgian daily Le Soir reported.

The Muslim university students' fury was provoked by the Belgian Constitutional Court's ruling announced on Saturday, which said the ban on wearing hijabs in higher education institution does not violate people's religious or political freedoms.

In Belgium, the public debate on Muslim women wearing hijabs (headscarves covering the face) in schools began in 1994. Belgian laws do not allow the use of either Christian or Muslim religious symbols, such as the cross or hijab, in universities and colleges, citing the principle of neutrality in education. In 2017, a group of Muslim students sued Francisco Ferrer University College in Brussels, arguing that the school's internal rules restricted the students' right to wear religious symbols. The court in Brussels trying the case requested that the Constitutional Court issue a bindig legal ruling on certain provisions of the Education Act. On Saturday, the Constitutional Court ruled not to annul the ban on headscarves imposed by the university college.

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