01/25/2021, 12.49
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Father of a non-Muslim pupil rejects hijab requirement

by Mathias Hariyadi

The man, along with his wife, challenged the school's regulation on dress codes for female students. The director general of education department will give an official reprimand to the school for violating the norms, that "religious symbols" should not be imposed in school.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The parent of a non-Muslim pupil has rejected the discriminatory regulation of the Padang school in Indonesia which wants to impose the hijab on all female students.

There are two predominantly Muslim provinces in the country that have rigorously applied Islamic regulations to their local residents. While Aceh Province became the nation's first province to enforce sharia law, West Sumatra province has never mentioned sharia law as a daily "baseline" for residents' everyday lives. But certainly, in dozens of districts of the province a feeling of intolerance has repeatedly emerged for which non-Muslim residents have suffered acts of intolerance in forms of persecution, bullying or even - the most recent incident - have been forced to respect local regulations mostly inspired by the Muslim "way of life".

This is what happened to a non-Muslim local high school student identified as Jeni Cahyani Hia, of Chinese descent, in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra province. Days ago her father sent a strong worded message to her daughter's school - the SMKN 2 Padang - stating that as a parent he strongly rejected the school regulations that all female students must wear hijabs. In turn, Ms. Hia steadfastly refused to accept the school's regulations, stating that she and her daughter are not Muslims and therefore her daughter Jenny should not wear hijab as required by the school.

Her mother publicly posted her strong rejection on social media, which brought this issue to national attention to such an extent that both Padang and Jakarta school office branches said they would soon be addressing this issue.

Ms. Hia's recorded video message on social media got responses from at least 3,600 accounts, shares from at least 3,400 accounts, and received 5,500 comments from various people.

The comments have generally expressed great concern that the educational institution should not impose discriminatory acts on a student from a different religious background and from a minority group.

Notice of reprimand

Wikan Sakarinto, director general of vocational education, said Jakarta will give the school an official reprimand for violating the school regulations, that "religious symbols" should not be implemented in school. "The regulation on the student uniform has been officially issued by the Ministry of Education and National Culture," Sakarinto said in a press release released today, referring to Ministerial Regulation no. 45 / Year 2014 which states that a school uniform must not follow certain religious habits. The school is also not authorized to design clothes as a uniform.

Indonesian education minister Nadiem Makarim, a devout Muslim, condemned the Padang incident as an intolerant act on the part of the state school. He said: “This is a serious offense (of the spirit) of the Pancasila, an intolerant act that denies our spirit of pluralism. This means that it is not only an offense to the education regulation, but it also violates the spirit of our national philosophy: Pancasila. "He added that such acts of intolerance clearly constitute a serious violation of Law No. 39/1999 on human rights.


A few days earlier, Adib Alfikri, head of Padang's Education Brach, had said that his office would look into such discriminatory regulation very soon, but many accused him of late reaction.

On Friday, Rusmadi, principal of the SMKN2 school, based in Padang, publicly expressed his request for forgiveness for the incident. "We are very sorry - she said - for a hostile situation caused by our staff".

The public condemned this incident as a serious accident caused by the then mayor of Padang, for which the school is supposed to implement the so-called "local genius" - which means Islamic clothing.

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