A Thumbs-Up for Gender Apartheid in Sweden

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The other day I wrote about a young Muslim woman in Norway who wears a niqab – a veil that covers everything except the eyes – and who’s busy these days giving talks at Norwegian schools about her religion and her choice of outerwear.

Now, just across the border in Sweden, that country’s version of the Department of Education, which is called Skolverket (and which in English labels itself the Swedish National Agency for Education), has sent down a ruling about the role of niqab in Swedish schools.  This ruling is a response to new legislation as well as to a decision by Sweden’s Discrimination Ombudsman, which in turn came in response to a complaint by an adult student in Stockholm who cried prejudice a couple of years back when she was told to take off her niqab in class.

Skolverket’s decision, interestingly, has been represented by the Swedish media in different ways –  indeed, in two more or less antithetical ways.  On the one hand, Dagbladet begins its report as follows: “Students’ right to wear veils in schools has long been a hot question.  Now Skolverket has ruled that full-covering veils may be forbidden in certain situations.” Dagbladet goes on to quote Skolverket’s guidelines to the effect that niqab can be banned in lab or shop classes, in which there may be safety issues, or when the niqab “significantly impedes the interaction between teachers and students.” Skolverket leaves it up to teachers to decide when there’s a problem.

But the Swedish edition of Metro is (characteristically) more straightforward about what Skolverket’s ruling really amounts to.  “Skolverket approves full-covering veil,” reads the Metro headline.  “Only in exceptional cases can principals and teachers say no.” Metro notes that “the authorities cite religious freedom and believe it is up to the schools and teachers to adapt education to the students’ needs.” The newspaper quotes from Skolverket’s guidelines: “The full-covering veil can impede contact and interaction between teachers and students, but Skolverket feels that these difficulties can be overcome in the great majority of cases.”

In short, the Swedish educational authorities have caved in.  Henceforth, niqab is permitted in Swedish schools.  If any teacher thinks it’s getting in the way of normal classroom interaction (and how could it not?) or that it represents a potential safety problem – well, it’s up to that teacher to say so and take the consequences.

Which, of course, is a full-scale cop-out on the part of the Swedish authorities.  What teacher in his or her right mind would dare to say “take off that niqab” in the wake of this ruling?  Skolverket has effectively left such teachers high and dry.  The minute any teacher dares to step into that minefield, Swedish Muslim “spokespeople” will come crashing down on them.  There’s no limit to how widespread the protests might be and how much mayhem they might lead to – just look, after all, at what happened after a Danish newspaper ran a few cartoons of Muhammed.  Can one imagine the Swedish educational bureaucrats – not to mention the politicians and national media – doing anything other than folding at once?  When Skolverket says it is leaving decisions to teachers, it is being cynical and cowardly, washing its hands of a difficult matter and passing it on to already put-upon people in essentially powerless, thankless positions.

The Swedish establishment has responded to Skolverket’s ruling with a predictable thumbs-up.  The Swedish People’s Party, for example, has greeted its “welcome decision” with open arms.  So has one Daniel Nordström, who in an opinion piece in Folkbladet expresses sympathy for teachers who will now be put in the position of deciding when and when not to allow niqab – but who argues that a general ban is not the way to go either.

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  • Alvaro

    What a great outfit if you want to rob banks. It has a lot of advantages over ski masks. You can hide almost anything under there, no one has any idea who you are, it is easy to slip into the crows of niqab wearers. And if the police get to close, scream about racism, bigotry and how they violate your sacred religion.

    • intrcptr2

      Just like the palis with their dynamite belts…

  • David M

    Sweden's Islamization trend is horrible. Everything is hate speech but you have the freedom to hate and insult Christianity and straight white Christian male. One word against Islam or Muslims is worse than murder. Palestinians ( the most violent, hateful and backward) are the holiest species on earth. The Left (socialists, communists, greens, Lutheran church and labor unions) have found Islam as their new religion ( they hate every religion other than Islam) and openly support Hamas. You see more women in hejab in Swedish cities than in Istanbul, Baku (capital of Azerbaijan) or Tirana (capital of Albania). It is hard to believe but Azerbaijan and Albania are more pro-America and pro-Israel than Sweden (not pro-Israel) and Norway (the worst anti-Semite country in Europe). I would like to add that I'm not Albanian or Azerbaijani and not a Christians or Jewish. I see the downfall of the Western civilization.

  • oldtimer

    I don't understand how women can let this happen. Your great grandmothers stood up for their rights to equally work and vote. Was all their hard work and sacrifice for nothing?

    • ilia toli

      It was just too easy and fun to stand up back then. Now that it's dangerous, everybody's chickening out.

      • oldtimer

        You need to read up on the suffragette movement. Far from fun and easy. They were thrown into prisons and force fed and humiliated in many other ways. And it was dangerous then.

        • oldtimer

          I am referring to the early 1900's not the 60's.

  • http://feminine-genius.typepad.com/morning_star gsk

    If Europeans were willing to have a serious debate about modesty, then it would serve to flesh out the two extremes: 1. No one can tell me what to wear (or not to wear); and 2. Islam says that I am the property of the men in my life and not to be seen by others.

    Atheists and those who subscribe to the sexual liberation can agree with 1., while many Muslims subscribe to 2. As long as the argument is reduced to individual freedom founded on multiculturalism, it will be a sloppy freeforall. Unfortunately, there are few who will prudently discuss legitimate authority and authentic freedom, so we bash away at any constraints.

    • hajid

      How about a Musselman dressed in a niqab to bombed himself up along with others? Woud him be a martyr who can go to some place and have 72 something, or go to some place because he dressed in woman's clothes and according to Koran, belongs to another man?

  • Brujo Blanco

    There are places in Europe where any woman enters not dressed in a manner appeoved by the Muslims that woman will be attacked by Muslim men. This manner of dress is a mask. Stores should not allow anyone wearing a mask to enter.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ JasonPappas

    Religious freedom allows unlimited freedom of belief, not unlimited freedom of practice. If any practice could be allowed under the banner of religious freedom all laws would become null and void. Clearly the dehumanizing practice of the niqab should be banned in public.

  • mrbean

    The Swedish and Norway as well have a left wing, Muslim-apologist slant along with disdain for anyone with the guts to challenge an ideology that is closer to a fascist dictatorship than anything resembling a religion. Instead of defending womens rights, lest they offend the sociopathic Muslims, they keep feeding the sharia crocodile in hopes that he will eat them last.

  • Ciccio

    The Smithtonian photo archives – available online – have the Abdul Hamid II
    collection 1880-1893. This was the last Ottoman sultan and it was to show the modernity of the Empire. There are a few photos of various girl schools and surprise surprise, not a veil or face covering in sight. They not only show their faces but also their hair, that must be the reason for the demise of the Ottoman empire, struck down by Allah for this blasphemy.

  • Ann

    just think you can get fat and be ugly, no one will ever know —this could be great!!! no one will know how old you are—this could work, we would never have to see Clinton ,Pelosi, Wasserman,Boxer-everyone in the media —don't look a gift horse, ya know what I mean!!! this could be good!!!

  • sidefilippe

    What's education? Was it teaching the student about something or the other way around? If the Musselmen don't like the education system in where they invaded, they have the freedom to opt out, or maybe not? Have those niqab wearing students sign the waiver regarding safety issues, so when they were hurt or worse, they can not blame anyone but themselves.

    The Western people are so tame and ignorant that they don't know how to react to the aggressors. Unfortunately the agressors will eat them alive!

  • carl

    Where are all the feminists? Where is their outcry? The burning of their bras in the streets?

  • Glennd1

    Where are the feminists, indeed? I'm astonished that progressive women aren't up in arms over this, and it reveals a real hypocrisy inside the feminist movement.

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