11/29/2021, 13.24
ALGERIA - ISLAM
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Mascara, teacher wants to impose the veil: pupils (and parents) in revolt

by Kamel Abderrahmani

Even the principal took sides against the Islamic science teacher, stressing that he was exceeding the limits of his role. Wanting to impose a dress code is inappropriate and calls into question the very criteria of national education. The teacher was suspended from his post, but found solidarity with extremist and radical groups. 

Algiers (AsiaNews) - The school, whether public or private, must not be ideological, but for Islamic fundamentalists it can only be so: in other words, the sharia (Islamic law) must be the main source of all teaching; of all behaviour, of the clothing habits of students, especially girls, and also with regard to eating habits. 

In Algeria, a nation where Islamic sciences are taught in schools, colleges and high schools, school curricula are established by pedagogues appointed by the state. Also in consideration of the importance of the Muslim religion for the population and given the sensitivity of certain issues that, in some cases, could not only be a source of disturbance as in the case of certain Islamic laws, but would also end up radicalizing students, depriving them of their humanity and making them potential terrorists of thought. 

In Mascara, a city located 350 km south of the capital, a teacher of Islamic sciences has triggered a violent controversy for the attitude adopted towards his students. The story began when some parents reported to the administration of the high school that the teacher in question was violating the internal rules of national education, going beyond his mission by wanting to determine the clothing choices of female students.

This teacher's meddling in the way students dress appeared not only inappropriate, but also undermines the reliability of internal regulations and the very education given by parents. It should also be noted that interference means that "we meddle with something that does not concern us and participate forcefully in the reflection, to guide the decision". 

Transmitting a report from the high school management to the educational department of this "wilaya" (territorial administrative unit), the latter soon took the decision to suspend the teacher from her post, which ended up exacerbating the tempers of a part of Algerian internet users.

The decision was considered severe and disproportionate according to some social network users - ascribable to Algerian extremist factions - who expressed solidarity with the teacher. Also and above all because on his Facebook page the teacher in question has remained firm on his positions: "I have done nothing but ask my pupils to dress decently".

Is there perhaps something wrong with a teacher asking for proper attire? However, it should be noted that all educational institutions around the world have internal regulations that require decent dress and that the school administration oversees to ensure that it is adhered to. And that a teacher is responsible, as a government official, for the teaching given and as such must submit to a moral commitment, namely that of being neutral.

In the same video, he says that he responded to the principal of the high school who asked him not to come to work wearing the "qamis" (long tunic characteristic of Islamic male clothing). The teacher did not hesitate to challenge the principal, going to work dressed in that way until the school manager will allow the entrance to "impure" students, who do not wear the veil or do not dress in typical Islamic clothing. 

This intervention on social media did not go unnoticed. The principal of this high school in a video posted on the official web page of the institute has decided to make public an affair that was becoming more complicated than expected and that raised heavy suspicions about the teacher. By "decent outfit" it turned out that the latter meant precisely the "Islamic veil", which is not at all required of teachers or students in Algerian schools.

According to the dean, the teacher has far exceeded the prerogatives of his function by not only asking female students to wear the veil, but also by distributing an obnoxious booklet dealing with the origins of Berbers in Algeria. "What do Berber origins have to do with Islamic science courses," the dean asked. The latter finally identified another serious problem: the teacher would have harassed the female students and for this he is preparing to take legal action.

In front of this unacceptable attitude and in front of a situation that risked getting out of hand and to avoid destabilizing students, partents intervened. Presenting themselves at the offices of the presidency, they have reiterated that they are the only legal owners of their children and they are responsible for their education, contrary to what the professor was attempting to imply.

 

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