Thoughts : Singapore (Islamic Issues) : Headscarves and National Integration?

I was pleasantly surprised to read the article, “French School expels sisters for headscarves” (ST, Oct 13). Here we read of a Jew (the father) defending a Muslim’s right to wear her headscarf. The fact that he is the father of the two teenage sisters is surely beside the point. I am a committed Christian and a Chinese and I have no problems with Muslims wearing their headscarves. In fact, as much as I would want expressions related to my religion and race not to be denied me, that much I would fight for the freedom of expressions related to other religions and races. That is only fair and just. To think that somehow national integration or religious and racial unity somehow suffers because of the wearing of headscarves in school is surely ridiculous. It’s about time our government rethinks its policy in this area.

As was quoted in the article, such rulings against the wearing of headscarves reflect a terrible defeat for “intelligence”. The Singaporean government’s position raises questions not only of how intelligent and foresighted our leaders are, but also how intelligent our young students can be. Rather than banish the sight of headscarves, shouldn’t we use this opportunity to educate our young students on diversity of practices and freedom of religious expressions? I am very sure they are intelligent enough to understand and accept differences.

There are other reasons the government needs to rethink its policy here. Certainly one of the biggest motivations to pursue terrorist violence is the perception of injustice and oppression towards one’s group or faith. This is not to say that the resort to violence is justified, for two wrongs do not make a right. But rather, this ought to make us realize the importance of treating different groups justly, and indeed that there are consequences of our policies.

Our government’s policy towards the wearing of headscarves in schools need to be remade. In the opinion of a Chinese Christian here, it reeks of injustice.

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