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Belgium: Ban on Islamic Headscarves in Flanders

(Oct. 6, 2009) Effective as of 2010, the Flanders Educational Council will implement a recently issued ban on the wearing of Islamic headscarves in public schools located in Flanders. The Council justified its decision by citing the great pressure exerted on Muslim students who do not wear scarves by those students who are wearing them. The school in which the movement to impose the ban started had a majority of Muslim students. The Council has banned “the wearing of all religious and philosophical signs,” except in religious classes. In francophone Belgium, the decision is at present left to individual schools. (Jean Pierre Stroobants, L'interdiction du port du voile à l'école fait polémique à Anvers, LEMONDE.FR, Sept. 16, 2009, available at
; Jean-Michel Demetz, Belgique: quand la Flandre interdit le voile, L'EXPRESS.FR, Sept. 15, 2009, available at

A few days after the ban was issued, the Council of State, Belgium's highest administrative court, denied a request to suspend the execution of the decision of the Flanders Educational Council. (Rejet de la demande de suspension de l'interdiction du port du voile à Anvers, Conseil d'État website, available at