Danish schools hijab ban advice reversed by commission members

Two members of the Danish government’s so-called “Commission for the Forgotten Women’s Struggle” have reversed course on the group’s recent recommendation to ban the hijab in primary schools.

Danish schools hijab ban advice reversed by commission members
Illustration photo of a young woman wearing a hijab. Two Danish commission members say they have changed their minds over an earlier recommendation to ban the garment in primary schools. Photo by Erge Mahindra on Unsplash

The commission last week recommended a ban on young girls wearing the hijab or Muslim head scarf at schools. The recommendation received negative press coverage and feedback from educators.

In its report, the commission argued that wearing the hijab marks out Danish Muslim girls as being different from other Danish girls.

A hijab is a head scarf worn by some Muslim and women girls, covering the hair but not the face. It is distinct from the niqab, which covers the face apart from the eyes, and the burka, which covers the entire face with a mesh enabling the wearer to see.

READ ALSO: Danish commission says government should ban hijab at schools

“We all become wiser in this debate, including those of us who sit on the commission,” one member of the commission, former headteacher Lise Egholm, told broadcaster DR.

Egholm said she now believes that the oldest primary school students should be exempted from a potential ban since some Muslim girls begin wearing a headscarf after they start their first period. 

She also said discussion of the issue had turned into a “media storm”.

The commission, appointed by the government earlier this year, has 10 members. The members stated they were all in agreement when they last week made a total of nine different recommendations related to minority ethnic girls in Denmark.

But another member, Kefa Abu Ras, co-founder of organisation Sisters Against Violence and Control (Søstre mod vold og control), wrote last weekend on Facebook that she no longer supports the measure, DR reports.

Instead, she said, the hijab should just be discouraged in primary schools, rather than forbidden.

Egholm on Monday became the second commission member to change her stance. She also called for the commission to meet to discuss the matter.

The overall purpose of the commission is to make recommendations on “how we in Denmark can ensure that women with minority backgrounds can enjoy the same rights and freedoms as other Danish women”.

It is set to make additional recommendations relating to young adults and adults in the coming months. The government is not obliged to table a bill based on the commission’s recommendations.

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Danish government split over repatriation of women and children from Syria

Only one of the three parties in Denmark’s coalition government has stated it wants to repatriate women with national connections to Denmark from Kurdish-run prison camps in Syria.

Danish government split over repatriation of women and children from Syria

The Moderate party, one of the junior parties in the coalition, wants Danish children to be repatriated from the al-Roj prison camp in northern Syria, even if it means their mothers are evacuated with them.

The other two parties, the Social Democrats and Liberals (Venstre), still oppose bringing the women back to Denmark.

The two latter parties have stated that they only want to evacuate the children and not the mothers, who are in the camps because they have been sympathisers of the Islamic State (Isis) terror group or spouses of Isis militants.

As such, the government is split over the question of whether to retrieve the five children and three mothers from the camp, where they have now been marooned for several years.

Human rights organisations have in the past expressed concerns over the conditions at the prison camps and Denmark has faced criticism for not evacuating children there who have connections to Denmark.


Current government policy does not evacuate children from the two camps without their mothers and will not evacuate mothers if their Danish citizenship has been revoked.

A recent headline case saw a mother from the camp win an appeal against a Danish immigration ministry decision to revoke her citizenship, meaning she now has the right to be evacuated. She was expected to be prosecuted by Denmark under terrorism laws on her return to the country.

Denmark’s Scandinavian neighbour Norway on Wednesday repatriated two sisters who went to Syria as teenagers as well as their three children, citing abysmal conditions in the camp where they were housed.

Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, leader of the Moderate party, said at a parliamentary committee hearing on Wednesday that the government will state its agreed position on the issue “soon”, news wire Ritzau reports.

“The government will make a decision on the government’s position on the basis of the updated government policy position. And I expect we will do that soon,” he said.

Rasmussen said in January that the government had asked the relevant authorities to provide up-to-date information related to the Danish children who remain in the camps.

That information is expected to form the “policy position” (beslutningsgrundlag) referred to by Rasmussen in his committee comments.