SNP MEP And MSP Team Hail Rejection Of Call For EU Headscarf Ban

16 January 2008
SNP Parliamentarians Alyn Smith MEP and Bashir Ahmad MSP have warmly welcomed a vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg which rejected proposals for an EU-wide ban on Muslim headscarves in primary schools.

The proposals were brought to the full Parliament by the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, and while well intentioned were roundly criticised by both Mr Ahmad and Mr Smith for attempting to involve the EU in matters very much best left to individual schools and Scots common sense. The ban, if implemented, would have seen an EU edict to ban headscarves until the child was able to decide for herself whether to wear one or not. The proposal was rejected by 367 votes to 200 with 134 abstentions.

Speaking in Strasbourg Mr Smith said:

"The SNP is against any such bans of this nature and it is just plain daft to replace the way things are done now, with individual schools and local authorities making the rules on the basis of freedom and tolerance, with an EU-wide edict.

"I respect the aims of the Women's Committee but this proposal was woolly thinking of the worst order and I am glad the Parliament so roundly rejected the counterproductive busybody proposals."

Speaking from Holyrood Mr Ahmad added:

"The issue of a European wide Hijab ban should not have been proposed in the first place. While I believe the intentions of the Women's Committee were honourable the logic behind calling for such a ban was clearly flawed.

"I am delighted that the proposal was overwhelmingly rejected, however, this will deepen concerns among many Muslims that an anti-Islamic wave is riding across parts of Europe.

"We in Scotland live as one community, tolerant of each others beliefs and religious practices. I am happy to see that my colleagues in the European Parliament are doing their utmost to spread this message."