Protest against mandatory veil in a Yogyakarta high school mounts
by Mathias Hariyadi

SMAN 1 High School is located in Bantul. Backed by the principal, three teachers required students to wear the hijab, sparking an angry response from students who are backed by human rights and child advocacy groups. The governor of the Yogyakarta Special Region sacked the principal and the three teachers, pending the conclusion of the investigation.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – In Indonesia, protests are mounting against the decision by a school in Bantul, Yogyakarta District, to impose the hijab, fuelling identity policies linked to Islam at the expense of individual freedoms.

The controversy caused by the administration of Public High School No 1[i] in Banguntapan has sparked criticism from human rights groups

Budhi Masturi, head of Yogyakarta's Ombudsman’s Office, reports that “three teachers deliberately demanded the students to wear the hijab.”

The school’s principal and administrators have tried to cover up the affair, while the pupils opposed to the decision are considering moving to other schools because of the psychological stress caused by the controversy.

Various education and child protection groups, like the Yogyakarta Education Care Alliance and the Indonesian Children Protection Commission (KPAI), have also expressed concern.

The mother of a pupil published an open letter. In it, she rejects the school's accusations that her daughter's mental troubles are related to family problems, not the mandatory veil.

"My daughter is fighting to defend her civil rights,” Herprastyanti Ayuningtyas writes, including the right not to wear a hijab.

On 26 July, the girl called her mother, crying, unable to say a word. Later, she sent a text message writing: “Mum, I don’t want to attend this school anymore; I want to go home.”

With opposition growing, the authorities in Yogyakarta waded into the controversy.

Sri Sultan Hamengkubawono X, governor of the Yogyakarta Special Region, dismissed the school principal and the three teachers responsible for the dispute, who are not “authorised to come to class until a full investigation is completed.”


[i] Sma Negeri 1.