Over 55 percent of respondents to a new poll in Denmark say they do not want the country to ban the hijab at schools.
The topic of whether Denmark should continue to allow young Muslim girls to wear the hijab at school has come to prominence after a government-appointed commission last week recommended a ban on the religious garment at schools.
The recommendation received negative feedback from educators and two members of the committee subsequently said they had changed their view and no longer agreed with the recommendation of the commission.
- Danish commission says government should ban hijab at schools
- Danish schools hijab ban advice reversed by commission members
In a poll conducted by Voxmeter on behalf of news agency Ritzau, 56.1 of respondents said ‘no’ to a ban on the hijab at schools.
A significantly lower proportion of 28.2 percent said ‘yes’ to such a ban while 15.7 percent answered ‘don’t know’.
The results come from a survey of 1,013 representative residents of Denmark over the age of 18, conducted between August 29th and September 1st.
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.
The stated purpose of the commission – which has been given the name “Commission for the Forgotten Women’s Struggle”— 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”.
In addition to a proposed school ban on hijabs, it released last week a total of nine different recommendations related to minority ethnic girls in Denmark.
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.
The hijab recommendation was criticised by faith organisation Dansk Islamisk Trossamfund, which said it would result in more polarisation and harm at schools.
Experts have meanwhile noted that enforcing such a ban might prove difficult legally because the Danish constitution and human rights laws guarantee freedom of religion.
A ban on a symbol of a specific religion could be considered religious discrimination, according to comments attributed by news wire Ritzau to University of Copenhagen professor of constitutional law Jens Elo Rytter.
Among the 28.2 percent – 268 people – who said in the poll that they supported a ban on the hijab at schools, 225 or 78.6 percent said it should be introduced even if this is in breach of religious freedom under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The commission also said it would favour a general ban on the use of religious symbols at schools in Denmark if this was necessary to secure a ban on the hijab.
Neither does this option enjoy the support of members of the public polled by Voxmeter.
60 percent said they were against “a ban on students or staff wearing religious symbols at schools, including state elementary schools and free schools”.
25.6 percent supported a ban in this scenario and 14.4 percent were unsure.