Thursday 26 November, 2020

Hindu college infringed on Nafisah's religious freedom, Garcia says

The refusal of entry of a Muslim woman into the compound of Lakshmi Girls’ College because of her hijab was an attack on her right to practice her religion.

The Education Ministry has taken this position, even as it awaits a report from the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) board and an interpretation from the court on the matter.

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Speaking at the Post Cabinet media briefing on Thursday, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said the incident is of great concern to the Ministry.

“We feel this is a direct attack on the right of an individual to practice his/her religion.”

“We are very concerned about this because we feel it is an abrogation of the rights of an individual and the rights of this teacher.”

Garcia noted that there is precedent for Nakhid’s case in a 1995 ruling in favour of a student being allowed to wear her hijab at a Catholic denominational school, as well as Constitutional backing to allow the On-the-Job-Trainee to continue wearing her hijab while at the Hindu school.

Acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert agreed, adding that there was further precedent in the form of a 2008 matter in which the court ruled in favour of allowing a juror wearing a burqa to sit on the jury.

Garcia said the Ministry will know the way forward in treating with the matter when it receives the legal interpretation from the court.

Nafisah Nakhid, an OJT assigned to the denominational school to teach Mechanical Engineering, was denied entry to the school and asked to remove her hijab.

The woman left the school’s compound and reported the matter to the department which assigned her to teach at the St Augustine school.


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