Hijab As A Religious Symbol Or Security Concern?
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The Hijab has recently become a major cause of concern in the United States and around the world. Certain countries are trying to impose a law that bans the hijab from being worn at schools and at the workplace. These bans cannot be considered legitimate if they are set to target a specific religion, such as Islam, and allow other religions, such as Judaism and Christianity to be practiced without restraints. These restrictions can, however, be compromised when public safety becomes a dilemma.
In the case HearnÐ²Ð‚™s & the Rutherford Institute v. Muskogee Public schools, sixth grader Nashala Hearn was suspended from the Benjamin Franklin Science Academy in October 2003 for refusing to remover her hijab at school. The hijab, according to the Muslim belief, Ð²Ð‚Ñšis an Arabic word that describes Muslim womens entire dress code, which includes a veil and whatever else is needed to cover everything except the face and hands. It is adopted at puberty – an age when Muslims, say children, should become accountable for their actionsÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Kahn, 52). The school districtÐ²Ð‚™s policy originally forbade its students from wearing hats, caps, bandanaÐ²Ð‚™s or other headwear inside school buildings. This was done in the hopes of preventing gang violence and had been in effect at the school for six years. NashalaÐ²Ð‚™s headscarf was seen as a violation of this dress code, thus she was suspended. NashalaÐ²Ð‚™s family & The Rutherford Institute decided to take action against the school board. The Rutherford Institute is a civil rights group that gained popularity and a national reputation for supporting prayer in public places, parental rights and the rights to display the Ten Commandments in public places (Hearn at page 1). NashalaÐ²Ð‚™s parents and the Institute filed suit in the U.S. District Court in late October of 2003 asking the district to reverse NashalaÐ²Ð‚™s suspension, change the school dress code to specifically include a distinction between regular hats and bandanas versus hijabs, and pay the family compensatory damages for the amount of $80,000 (Hearn at page 1-2). The court ruled in favor of the HearnÐ²Ð‚™s stating the equal protection clause of the XIV amendment of the US Constitution as having been violated and as part of an agreement filed in May of 2004, the Muskogee Public School district is asked to revise its dress code to allow headgear under specific circumstances or with the approval of the school board. The school is also asked to give adequate training to its staff and employees about the new dress code implementations and give a copy of these amended policies to parents and students. In regards to the issue of payment of compensatory damages, the disputed parties have reached a confidential agreement to pay the Hearn family an undisclosed sum which is to be payable through the schoolÐ²Ð‚™s insurance policy and