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Secularism | Wearing the Islamic headscarf ignites political debate in Belgium

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Cole Hanson
Cole Hanson
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(Brussels) The issue of wearing the Islamic headscarf has fueled political controversy in Belgium, forcing the prime minister to make himself clear to MPs Monday about the resignation of a veiled Moroccan-Belgian from her position as government representative in a public body.

Ishan Hawash, 36, on Friday resigned from the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men (IEFH) where she held the position of government commissioner with the task of ensuring compliance with the law and the public interest.

To justify her decision, this woman was involved in the fight against sexism, particularly at work, and said that she wanted to “protect herself from online stalking.” She lamented that she had been subjected to “relentless personal attacks” since her appointment to the position was revealed six weeks ago.

Can a veiled woman exercise a public position of authority and represent the state, which must observe the principle of impartiality in its relationship to worship? The question was split even within the government coalition led by Alexandre de Croo.

The Prime Minister first defended this graduate’s “tangible autobiography”.

Distinctive religious signs

The Flemish liberal also noted that the wearing of any distinctive religious sign was prohibited by the federal state on any civil servant “in contact with the public”, which was not the case for the master.I Footnotes at IEFH.

But the appointment, at the initiative of the Écolo-Groen party and its foreign minister Sarah Schlitz, was hotly contested in the opposition and within a coalition formation, the Reform Movement (MR, French Liberalism).

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The controversy intensified on July 3 with statements published in the newspaper Evening from Brussels Ishan Hawash, statements that she herself considered “embarrassing” after four days.

In the interview, the daughter of a Moroccan diplomat considered the ban on wearing religious symbols in Belgium “discriminatory”.

“The debate is not: Are we questioning the separation of church and state? This is how it is being rejected with demographic change? She added. A sign that the proportion of Muslims in Brussels is higher than in the rest of Belgium (5-7% in the country according to researchers).

Contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood?

This was seen by many as questioning the neutrality of the state, which Mr. de Croo called a “fundamental principle,” which Mr. de Croo called.I Hawash during a heated question-and-answer session Thursday in the House of Representatives.

Mother. De Crew andI Schlitz had to explain his position on Monday to a parliamentary committee over a memorandum drafted by state security – Belgium’s civilian intelligence – raising “suspicions” of links between Mr.I Hawash and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The person in question had already vigorously defended on July 3, stressing that this movement was not known “neither from near nor from afar.” Mother. De Crew andI Schlitz refused to reveal the content of this memo – “secret” and therefore confidential – and ruled out any connection to the master’s resignation.I footnotes.

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