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Sweden’s Supreme Court Overturns Ban on Hijab for Schoolgirls

Sweden’s Supreme Court has reversed the schoolgirl headscarf ban passed by the municipality of Staffanstorp in 2019, arguing that it contravenes freedom of expression laws.

Staffanstorp, in the county of Skane, southern Sweden, where the Moderates rule in coalition with the far-right Sweden Democrats, wanted to bar children from wearing headscarves in pre-schools and primary schools up to year six, effectively banning children under 12.

In Skurup, another municipality run by the Sweden Democrats, politicians had pushed for a ban for children and staff in preschools and primary schools.

The parliament’s committee on the constitution has said that it has no plans for legislation banning the item of clothing, either for children in particular schools or in wider society.

Both Skane municipalities have been pursuing the headscarf issue for several years.

In a previous decision, the Administrative Court said the headscarf ban the two municipalities wanted to implement contravenes both the European Convention on Human Rights and protections on religious freedom under Swedish constitutional laws.

The Supreme Court instead used Sweden’s freedom of expression law to back up its ruling, stating that expressions of religious affiliation, such as clothing, are covered by this.

“Limiting the right to wear a headscarf has effects on individuals and is therefore a limitation of freedom of expression,” Justice Ulrik von Essen said in a press release, as reported by The Local Sweden.

“For the limitation to be permitted, it must be supported by law. Such legal support is missing in national law and therefore the municipalities’ decision must be annulled,” he said.

Staffanstorp’s vote to ban headscarves in 2019 formed part of an “integration plan” for the town, which was drawn up by the centre-right Moderate Party and the populist Sweden Democrats.

Hijab is a veil worn by some Muslim women in the presence of any male outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the head and chest. The term can refer to any head, face, or body covering worn by Muslim women that conforms to Islamic standards of modesty. Hijab can also refer to the seclusion of women from men in the public sphere, or it may denote a metaphysical dimension, for example referring to “the veil which separates man or the world from God.”

source:dailymail

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