Friday 19 October, 2018

Muslim woman allegedly barred from Hindu school over hijab

On-the-Job (OJT) trainee, Nafisah Nakhid said she is seeking legal advice after she was allegedly barred from entering a Hindu high school because of her hijab.

Nakhid, who was recently assigned to the school through the OJT programme, told LoopTT that she arrived at Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College on Monday, May 22, eager to begin her training.

However, upon arriving, Nakhid said that she was barred from entering the premises as she was told that persons in hijabs were not allowed on the compound. She said she was given the choice to remove her hijab or leave. She left.

Nakhid said at first, she couldn’t believe what had happened.

I was in shock, I couldn’t believe what had happened, especially during Ramadan. It’s difficult to describe the hurt and humiliation I felt,” she said.

She was told by teachers at the school that the mandate was a direction from the school board.

Nakhid added that she has never experienced this type of discrimination before.

“I have a lot of friends who went to that school actually, and I wasn’t sure what to tell them.  I’ve never experienced this type of discrimination before, and I have tons of friends who are Hindu as well from other faiths. This was just unbelievable,” she said.

Nakhid contacted the OJT division and they apologised, promising to reassign her.

However, she said she is seeking legal advice on the matter.

Education Minister Anthony Garcia said the Ministry is currently investigating the matter.

Garcia added that it is unlawful to bar entry to someone or otherwise persecute them because of their religion or religious garb.

“The Ministry of Education is committed to upholding the rights of citizens to practice their religion, this includes the wearing of religious garb. This is enshrined in the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago. In fact, there is already a precedent which deals with this issue,” he said.

In 1995, Muslim student Summayah Mohammed filed a civil suit after she was barred from wearing her hijab while attending Holy Name Convent in Port of Spain. The High Court ruled that the school's policy was inflexible and the school's order was quashed.

Under the Constitution, all citizens have the right to exist without discrimination by reason of race, origin, colour, religion or sex, the following fundamental human rights and freedoms, namely: (a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law; (b) the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law.

Lakshmi Girls' Hindu College is partially funded by the State and run by the Board of Education of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha.


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