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Raasepori Schools Frown on, But Will Allow, Islamic Scarves

Raasepori's school district has backpedalled on an outright ban on head-scarves for female students. The city in southern Finland softened its stand in the face of one family's fight to preserve its daughter's right to cover her head in public.

Lapsi piirtää liikenneympyrää.
Image: YLE

Some time ago, the city quietly issued guidelines that forbade the use of visible religious symbols during school hours. The restriction is not based in Finnish law and according to many critics is unconstitutional. Raasepori is the only Finnish school district to issue such restrictions.

Raasepori school officials say that immigrants accepted the guideline when it was issued. Things changed when one Iraqi family announced that they would not allow their daughter to attend school unless the ban was revoked.

In the face of opposition, Raasepori's officials watered down the guideline, announcing on Tuesday that the use of headscarves would no longer be banned as long as school traditions were respected. The announcement has left many in Raasepori unsure as to what that means; even some members on the deciding committee say they want clearer instructions.

The issue was hotly debated before Tuesday's announcement. The city's coordinator of immigrant affairs, Börje Mattsson, has been shuttling between the Iraqi family and the school board to find compromise.

"We want to normalize the situation as quickly and peacefully as possible," says Mattsson.

Sources: YLE

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