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Sweden's teachers free to ban Islamic veils

TT/The Local/dl · 11 Jan 2012, 15:46

Published: 11 Jan 2012 15:46 GMT+01:00

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The ban covers clothing that could hinder interaction between students and teachers or which could pose a specific risk, such as in a laboratory.

However, a general ban on headscarves isn't possible.

Teachers will have the power to decide whether or not to require students remove their headscarves, although schools should attempt to be as accommodating as possible, according to updated guidelines issued by the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skollverket) on Wednesday.

The guidance comes in response to a 2009 case in which two women sued an adult education centre in Spånga north of Stockholm after they were banned from class for wearing niqabs.

In December 2010, Sweden's Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen – DO) ruled that the ban amounted to a violation of Sweden’s anti-discrimination laws, after which the schools agency decided to review previous guidelines regarding the wearing of headscarves in Swedish schools.

Education minister Jan Björklund welcomed the education agency's clarification.

“It gives precisely the sort of room to maneuver that schools need. Teachers can prohibit veils that cover most of the face, if it inhibits contact and interaction in the classroom,” he told the TT news agency.

“Classroom lectures are an interplay between people, and in many situations, such interactions require that you can see each others' faces.”

According to Björklund, there has been uncertainty regarding the wearing of Islamic veils in Swedish schools ever since the ombudsman's 2010 ruling.

“But now you could say that things have been cleared up and that the National Agency for Education has maintained its original position, going against the ombudsman,” said Björklund.

However, the Left Party's education policy spokesperson Rossana Dinamarca criticized the agency's decision.

Story continues below…

“This is a bad ruling, which means that it will be up to each individual teacher to determine if you have the right to an education or not. That's a basic right for everyone, regardless of which religious background you have,” she told TT.

The updated guidelines are meant primarily for high schools and adult education centres, but can be tailored for use in primary schools when appropriate, although the education agency points out that “it's important to respect compulsory school attendance and the right to an education”.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:43 January 11, 2012 by Svensksmith
I'd like all my students to wear them...boys and girls. Might cut down on the noise.
16:49 January 11, 2012 by this_aint_sparta
Well the full face covering veils has nothing to do with ISLAM, for heavens sake. its the arab culture followed by the slave mindset of other's.
17:06 January 11, 2012 by rise
It's supposed to be a free country; if pupils wants to wear bank robber's clothing then let them..! :P
17:18 January 11, 2012 by Achilles7
Finally a little common sense in Sweden...
18:02 January 11, 2012 by prince T
good decision
18:17 January 11, 2012 by bells on the knight
yup let them keep em on. might scare the other kids if uncovered
18:22 January 11, 2012 by Scepticion
As usual, bureaucrats, make no decision, delegate all to the teacher, blame the teacher if something goes wrong.
18:24 January 11, 2012 by CJ from Sunshine Desserts
Quite right! we live in Sweden , not the fcking desert ! Why would anyone really want to cover themselves up anyway ? I would have thought the reason their parents emigrated to Sweden was to get away from all of this crap in the first place !Check out on you tube Ripping Yarns : The Curse of the Claw !
19:04 January 11, 2012 by occassional
Is this some sort of Stephen King time experiment? Yes they came to one of the world's most prosperous, advanced and open-minded nation but...

How can you go to school as a rug head? Why even bother in the first place? Mop the bog head in first while holding your breath and you'd be of more use.

How did we come to even accepting this absurdity in our midst? We should be teaching evolution, art, culture, science, sexuality, sports in our schools, not spending time on moronic idiocies.

Children should be encouraged to dream, think, fantasize and through education fulfil those dreams and grow into adulthood as learned and complete beings not as restricted, ashamed and disguised rats.

Get bloody real!
19:57 January 11, 2012 by strixy
If they value this piece of cloth so much (that has nothng to do with Qur'an btw), they can apply for asylum in more sympathetic countries like Egypt or Turkey. Why want to live in a secular Western democracy if your values are so different and you have no desire to compromise?
20:25 January 11, 2012 by swedejane
Practice religion at your mosque, church, home, whatever...not the public school system.
21:08 January 11, 2012 by StockholmSam
Oh great, pass the responsibility on to the teachers. What a great example of the so-called "decision-makers" avoiding having to make any decisions! Any teacher that tries to prohibit the wearing of such veils will have no support to fall back on if challenged by the student. What, exactly, should I as a teacher say to the student to justify the decision? "Sorry, I don't feel comfortable with the veil?" Or how about, "I don't understand your reasons for wearing it and am not really interested in discussing it." Or maybe, "Your veil is upsetting to other students." Which of those will foster positive chemistry in the classroom? Teachers are challenged enough to get students working well in class without having to do the jobs of politicians, too. Thanks for nothing.
22:30 January 11, 2012 by Roy E

Good point. Putting the call on on the teacher is wrong.

How long do you suppose it will be before the death threats begin?
23:11 January 11, 2012 by sharytariq
Bad decision. The people who don't know ISLAM and the benefit of why women wearing it should first read about it first and then speak.

I think Sweden's so called decision makers MUST first needs to look on why the number of rape cases increases in the country.

By these kinds of decisions it clearly showed about Sweden being consider itself as "Open society".

This decision is kind of Racism act !!!!!
23:36 January 11, 2012 by strixy
@ sharytariq

"Bad decision. The people who don't know ISLAM and the benefit of why women wearing it should first read about it first and then speak."

You are wrong. It is those veiled women that should read about Western culture so that they know what standards we adhere to and why it is not acceptable to cover one's face in public. If they insist on wearing a veil, there are a lot of more sympathetic countries to choose from where they could claim asylum.

The only reason why women wear it that i find credible is that they are forced to do so by some religious fanatics. However, there is no space for religous extremism in the public domain and rightly so. Those extremists should be challenged and it is saddening that the responsibility has been passed on to teachers.

"I think Sweden's so called decision makers MUST first needs to look on why the number of rape cases increases in the country."

We all know why, mate.
23:48 January 11, 2012 by sharytariq

Well just a small question you said "he only reason why women wear it that i find credible is that they are forced to do so by some religious fanatics" tell me who can force you in country like Sweden which claim to be open society. Where everyone have their own rights so who can force the other.

I don't know why its so difficult to understand that if someone wants to follow her religion why can't they follow it.

If Sweden don't want it then why they allow people entering their country before. We have to see that immigrants (Muslims) are part of Sweden society who look and take care of Sweden like their home country as they spend lot of years. So if they want to follow their religion then they should allow to do it.

See the picture other way around in most of Muslim countries they respect other religions where Nand (Christians) are allowed to wear their church dress without any problem.

So at the end Respect the religion and their values.
00:07 January 12, 2012 by omansour
I am a Muslim and I am happy to see that the Niqab is banned. These people abuse themselves, their religion, and others because they simply express themselves differently in an extreme way!!!
00:37 January 12, 2012 by strixy

"...tell me who can force you in country like Sweden which claim to be open society. Where everyone have their own rights so who can force the other. "

Haven't you ever been inside a radical Muslim family? Don't you know that fathers, brothers and cousins condemn their female relatives for not wearing the veil and even proceed to punish them physically?

I have years of experience working with victims of domestic abuse and I know what I have seen. This is a well documented problem. Those women declare they do it voluntarily but the truth is, they have little choice. They know what will happen if they ever want to stop doing it, so they don't even think about it.

Of course for some women is a matter of choice but they usually come from non radical families and do not cover their whole faces. Veil is not a problem, covering one's face is.

Another question is if they want to lead a life of a radical Muslim why do they insist on living in a secular European democracy and complain rather choose a more likeminded country? You have not addressed this one.

"I don't know why its so difficult to understand that if someone wants to follow her religion why can't they follow it."

They are very welcome to follow it in their mosque or at home.

I do not have a problem with anyone's religion as long as I am not forced to be part of it.

Europe has been through religious wars and the outcome is what it is. Everyone is welcome to follow whatever they want but do not make a display of it.

I have read some Qur'an and haven't found anything that would indicate that women should cover their whole faces. Of course, I am not an expert. However IMO, this is just a radical interpretation. Bible also used to be interpreted in a radical and literal way, thankfully twe have understood that nothing good could even come out of it. There are still radicals out there though.

"If Sweden don't want it then why they allow people entering their country before."

Maybe because they hoped that it would be a mutual exchange not one way street where one group just gives in and the other one just demands. I will say it again, it is not about the veil. Veil is fine, Niqab is not.

"See the picture other way around in most of Muslim countries they respect other religions where Nand (Christians) are allowed to wear their church dress without any problem."

I think you are dreaming. Don't you know what happens to European women in Muslim countries? Every single travel guide emphasises the importance of being covered from tip to toes and never leaving the hotel without a male companion. Does sound like a sign of respect to me.

With regards to other religions, their followers are simply being slayed in countries like Iran for example.

Maybe read some independent news because indeed you do sound misinformed.
00:41 January 12, 2012 by k2kats
If this story is accurate, it's appalling.

Each educator is given an opportunity to prohibit niqab if s/he feels that it "could hinder interaction" with teachers and students, with no further definition, even though they still have a clear view of one's eyes, which are widely considered to be the window to one's soul?

What values does this discrimination teach?
01:14 January 12, 2012 by philster61
No woman should ever be forced into wearing an abomination like a veil. It goes against every natural feminine instinct and just shows the level of abuse a man can heap upon a woman...... I really hope this will be enforced.....

This is good news.....
02:05 January 12, 2012 by Sarahfaz
@sharytariq I agree with most of what you wrote. Nowhere in the Quran is there a direct command to cover all except eyes. Also, the order to cover is directed to both men and women. Men are just as much responsible for their actions and behavior in Islam as women are. When cultural oppression is called religion and used to coerce and control, those who perpetrate it should be held accountable.

I totally agree with Sweden's take on this. I personally feel hijab (head covering) should be allowed everywhere and niqab (face covering) nowhere. Face covering can constitute a threat to public safety because of recognition issues. Even though I firmly believe in giving all an opportunity to be educated, a teacher's right to recognize every student has greater priority in this case.

Otherwise, covered hair can be a girl/woman's expression of modesty and/or free expression of religion, which shouldn't be denied because of prejudice. If she is being forced by family members, giving her an education will give her the ammunition she needs to escape their oppression.
03:51 January 12, 2012 by godnatt
Sanity prevails.

This symbol of female oppression, misogyny and the offensive declaration of the inferiority of women by stone age Muslims should be made illegal entirely.
04:27 January 12, 2012 by Smiling Canuk
We've just a passed a law in Canada that immigrant Muslim women can't wear veils on passport or driving license photos or when testifying in court.

Both Canada and Sweden should follow France and ban them totally.
07:43 January 12, 2012 by rybo1
There is nothing in the Qur'an saying that a woman must cover her entire face except for her eyes. In fact the Qur'an states that a woman should be recognized to others and her identity not hidden. It's another example of culture over-riding religion. The Taliban are a prime example.
09:01 January 12, 2012 by engagebrain
Full face covering also raises the question of who is inside - relevant for examinations, driving tests and court appearances.

Covering hair, provided there are no safety issues, is OK but face covering excludes almost all social interaction, which is the point.
10:11 January 12, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
Agree that it is grossly irresponsible to hand individual teachers this responsibility. They may now face death threats for this.

It should be a decision that is generated by the Swedish minister of women's issues on the simple grounds that it is an act of oppression against women to force them to wear face coverings anywhere in the world, and particularly in the west.

I would suggest a small modification to the decision, as follows:

The husbands of all women who wear face covering should be interviewed in an attempt to determine if they may be forcing their wives and sisters to do this, or if the women are truly thrilled to walk around with their faces fully covered.

Any women who are sick of this custom can stop wearing the face coverings immediately, and any violence in response for that behaviour should result in immediate deportation of the men (or women, if that has ever occured in the history of the Earth) who perpetrate that violence.

Anything less than a zero tolerance policy against baseless violence that is inflicted on Muslim women will fail to empower these women.
10:16 January 12, 2012 by Liquidmonkey
sure, sweden is meant to be an open and free society but that doesn't mean people walk around with carpets on their heads does it?

there is a certain socially acceptable way to dress here, much like in the western world and that does not include covering up your face, by anything.

you can't wear a face helmet to work or school so why should this even be allowed in public? u wanna smoke, drink, gamble, cover your face up....fine, BUT DO IT AT HOME!

plenty of kids and adults get frightened seeing these people around town. its not swedish, its nor western nor is it socially acceptable. if you want to wear these things in public, then go to where its acceptable.

and yeah, good job on passing the judgement down to teachers. so dumb. politicians need to grow some .
10:17 January 12, 2012 by fikatid
Yeah, ban them. Otherwise, people can wear Friday the 13th or the Halloween hockey masks to school. It's freaking scary to see only the eyes through the veils. If they insist on wearing that, I think they should consider moving back to they come from. Why would they want to move to Sweden in the first place. They can move to Saudia Arabia or UAE or Malaysia where full face veils don't seem scary to others.

It's just a scary outfit, period. They should adjust to the culture of the country where they reside if they choose to live here. This is not about eating habit but it's an outfit seen by everyone. If it's scary looking, they should not wear it.
10:42 January 12, 2012 by Douglas Garner
In teaching environments, I have found them as a safety concern in wood shop primarily as some of the scarfs can come loose and tangled in machines. Some headwear also blocks periferal vision which can also result in limited awareness of things going on around you.

In teaching language, it is necessary to look at the position of the mouth and tounge to help students get the sounds right. Speaking and listening also involves learning to read physical clues such as expression. You can't do that if you cannot see the person involved.

I also wonder what the rules are for sports activities and for school nurses!
12:30 January 12, 2012 by blik
Is Sweden suffering an identity crises here?

It is after all an Islamic Country now.
13:08 January 12, 2012 by asifbit
First of all the title is wrong veils is not Islamic.

The people who clamming women should wear 'veils' in Islam are wrong. Go and get some knowledge first. Why giving wrong impression of Islam? It is Arab/Afghan tradition might in some other countries too. In Islam women only have to hide whole body including hairs etc, but it is allow with open face and hands.

What if some Western will go to some Islamic state and swim naked on beach etc?

Don't claim things with the name of Islam, please obey the rules where you are living if you think you have conflict with rules then go back to your country simple and clear.

I am not against the veils but it is not compulsory in Islam. I would like to ask people who are in favour of veils are they or their women at home wearing veils? If not first go and try to convince them to wear.
15:31 January 12, 2012 by kashmiri81
Some one tell me please ...... How many Muslim girls or women Wear Veil in school or university ...... ?

My guess is may b 1 or 2 out of 100 .........
17:19 January 12, 2012 by jvtx3232
They should outlaw this sort of garb throughout Sweden, at all times, in all situations. Sweden is Sweden, it is not Arabia. You want to live in Sweden? "When in Rome do as the Romans do!" As the old saying goes.
17:38 January 12, 2012 by Majick
Sweden is NOT a Muslim country and should be free to ban this. Most of my Muslim friends at school are actually quite happy about this and have no issues with this being introduced. As they said themselves, we are not in the Arab Union here, and such unnecessary rubbish isn't needed or wanted.
18:40 January 12, 2012 by kashmiri81

So you are trying to say all Muslim countries should ban all non Islamic things in their countries for non Muslims ...... Strange :)


Sweden is not a Muslim country but a free society ...... May b I heard wrong :)
09:46 January 13, 2012 by mafketis
I'm a teacher and if a student wants to cover her hair then fine. I really don't care. It's not an attractive look most of the time, but then I guess that's part of the point - to make women modest by making them look less attractive.

But face covering is a different issue entirely. Since cultures that practice face covering for women also exclude them from public life in various ways (no voting, limited education and no driving in some places) then a young woman who covers her face is expressing her desire to withdraw from public life and I'll help her by not accepting her in my classroom which is a very public place.
10:42 January 13, 2012 by sharytariq
Those who said this is not available in Quran kindly see below details with references of Quran. Also there are lot of statements (Fatwas) available from great scholars on it.

Hadith - Bukhari 1:148

The wives of the Prophet used to go to Al-Manasi, a vast open place (near Baqia at Medina) to answer the call of nature at night. 'Umar used to say to the Prophet "Let your wives be veiled," but Allah's Apostle did not do so. One night Sauda bint Zam'a the wife of the Prophet went out at 'Isha' time and she was a tall lady. 'Umar addressed her and said, "I have recognized you, O Sauda." He said so, as he desired eagerly that the verses of Al-Hijab (the observing of veils by the Muslim women) may be revealed. So Allah revealed the verses of "Al-Hijab" (A complete body cover excluding the eyes).

The Noble Qur'an - Al-Ahzab 33:59

O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils)* all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

*the arabic word here is Jalabeeb (plural of Jalbaab), which is the loose outer garment that covers all a woman's body. It says here to use the Jalabeeb to cover all, and scholars say this means to use it to cover her head (agree upon by all scholars) and her face (agreed by many scholars, not all) and one or both eyes, in order for it to be known that she is a free woman and so not to be exposed to any harm.
11:52 January 13, 2012 by kashmiri81

How a class room of 20 or 25 students be a Public place :).

so you are going to take right of a education from a girl who just doesn't want her face .......... kool go ahead :)

This is called one sided freedom society :)

In some places they force Muslim women to cover face and here you gonna force to uncover ..... for me both are extremist :)
13:08 January 13, 2012 by Sarahfaz
Oops, I meant to direct last comment to strixy.. but this is good. I enjoy challenging misogynistic interpretations of my beautiful religion.

@sharytariq Every Hadith is not authentic in entirety and adding to the Quran is a sin.

Holy Quran 33:59 - translated by Pickthal - O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.

Do not add your own feelings or your culture to a Holy Book that is perfect as it is. Your parentheses may be your Tafseer (interpretation), but do not present that as Quran. Your last paragraph explaining the views of various scholars is fine.

@kashmiri81 A classroom is a public place. A private place is a house or business that is owned by one or few and everyone is not allowed there. Sweden did an impressive job giving Muslims rights and protecting everyone's safety. Much more admirable and liberating than Saudi Arabia or France's narrow minded approach.


14:45 January 13, 2012 by mafketis
kashmiri81: "In some places they force Muslim women to cover face and here you gonna force to uncover ..... for me both are extremist :) "

No, I don't care if she's so ashamed of her face and religion that she has to cover herself up at home or in some private place. But in the west you show your face in public and not doing so is a sign of dishonesty and/or ill intent. Covering her face means she doesn't want anything that I can teach her so she should stop wasting her (and my) time.
16:51 January 13, 2012 by astra2thor6
98% of the population of Turkey are muslims, yet headscarves are not allowed to be worn either by teachers or pupils in classrooms of all public schools from "dagis" to and including "university". If such a law exists in a muslim state and is not considered racist, why can we not have a similar law in Sweden?
17:04 January 13, 2012 by mafketis
@ astra2thor6

Short answer - muslim insecurity. The experience of living in an infidel society which functions much better than any muslim society is profoundly disorienting for many muslims. They don't want to believe it and reflexively start pushing the majority for concession after concession to try to shore up and strengthen their shaken religious belief.

People who are secure and confident in their beliefs aren't afraid of criticism or exposure to people who don't share them. Those who are unsure of and defensive about their beliefs cannot stand the thought of criticism or a happy unbeliever....
17:43 January 13, 2012 by bcterry
"See the picture other way around in most of Muslim countries they respect other religions where Nand (Christians) are allowed to wear their church dress without any problem. "

Complete and utter bullxxxx.

17:48 January 13, 2012 by justagirl
17:06 January 11, 2012 by rise

[It's supposed to be a free country; if pupils wants to wear bank robber's clothing then let them..!]

Free to be stupid, too. Go Sweden!
18:00 January 13, 2012 by ajs42548
How does a teacher know who is behind the veil? The cheating that would go on in exams would be rampant. As others have asked, why move to a secular country in the first place if you don't like their culture?
19:57 January 13, 2012 by kashmiri81
@Sarah ( Every Hadith is not authentic in entirety and adding to the Quran is a sin. )

He gave the reference of Bukhare and according to scholors after Quran ... Bukhare and Muslim is most authentic books of hadith ( As you are calling your self Muslim you know may be better than me about the importance of Bukhare and Muslim shareef ). Further less or more but in most of the cases we need Ahadith , tafaseer in order to understand Quran .

Well I agree with you on public or private place ... but here comes the teacher cooperation.And I affraid if a student doesnt feel ease how she is going to perform well ..... In short I think ur just trying to say atleast in your class you dont have a place for a girl with veil even you are also a Muslim :)

Any ways cheers :)
20:51 January 13, 2012 by bcterry
"How a class room of 20 or 25 students be a Public place :)."

It's a classroom in a public school, therefore ..................
23:56 January 13, 2012 by kashmiri81
Agreed @bcterry :)
04:28 January 14, 2012 by Commoner
@kashmiri81 : What exactly is your point? What do you think they teach to students in the swedish schools? Not Quran as far as i know. I do hope that All religions stay away from the swedish schools. Please leave your religion at home when you come to school & come with a open mind. Let the swedish teachers decide what is best as it is their job, their decisions should matter. Try to come out of the bubble world you have grown up in & try to look at the big picture.
17:50 January 14, 2012 by kashmiri81
Okay commoner :)
17:46 January 15, 2012 by Sarahfaz
@kashmiri81 I agree with you on the importance of Hadith and Tafseer. Do you agree that Farz (mandatory) commands are more important than Sunnah (recommended based on life of Prophet pbuh)?

Prayer, charity, modesty are farz but how exactly you pray, where you give to the poor, and how you practice modesty are not same around the world depending on who the accepted scholars and interpretations are.

God gave us brains and commanded us to seek knowledge. Commanded both men and women to use intellect and search for truth. If a girl in my class wanted to cover her face, I would ask her to explain her religion to me and why covering face is so important, at risk of public safety, lesser teacher-student interaction, possible isolation from rest of class, etc. If her answer is better than all those negatives, I would probably let her, and just single her out more in class so I'm always clear there is no imposter behind the cloth. Other teachers may use other reasoning. The point it to teach children by example and understanding, not coercion or force. It has better long-term results.


22:49 January 17, 2012 by kashmiri81
Okay Sarah I agree with you.

May ALLAH bless you ...... Waslam :)
10:51 January 18, 2012 by Streja
If any girl is forced to cover her whole face who am I to deny her an education? Maybe school is her only place of liberty.
04:52 January 19, 2012 by Jeff10
What if one's religion requires one to go about completely naked? Is this okay, b/c, well, no one wants to discriminate against the religion of another? What of marriage? What right has the state to govern marriage? Why can't one have many wives? What of age requirements for marriage? What of same-sex marriage?
10:55 January 19, 2012 by sharytariq
I remember one article i read on thelocal last year that "Malmö win for topless Swedish bathers". In this article girls wanted to swim topless.

So simple question if someone wants to show themselves there is no issue at all. But on the other hand if someone wants to hide themselves why there is an issue in it?

@Sarah: Sister what you said is all right. But the only thing is if someone wants to do that there is nothing wrong in it. There is a difference between reaching expectations and going far from expectations.

So if someone try to go far he/she is called "EXTREMIST".

i dont know the people why people are so against it. I mean you have millions of girls walking around open faced, did follow all fashions but you are only care for those 2-5% who wants to cover their faces or body to follow their religion. WHY ? If many said above they have bad faces or what soever why you have interest in them then ?

Again! my simple question is there if someone wants to show themselves there is no issue at all. But on the other hand if someone wants to hide themselves why there is an issue in it ?
03:00 January 20, 2012 by Sarahfaz
Again! my simple question is there if someone wants to show themselves there is no issue at all. But on the other hand if someone wants to hide themselves why there is an issue in it ?

@sharytariq I grew up American and the only large group of women I have ever met who wear full niqab (only eyes showing) live at a women's shelter in Baltimore, Maryland - many have histories of abusive relationships and are converts to Islam. These women feel safer covered. I'm not sure about their level of education, whether secular or religious, but if they choose to dress like that and feel safe in it, who am I to object? I'm not against it.

On the other hand, if any man tries to force me to wear niqab, I'll fight for my liberty. I cover my head by choice. No man has the right to make a woman wear hijab or niqab against her will. If you would like your wife to wear it, you can pray her Creator gives her enlightenment. You may divorce a wife, but you cannot force her. If religion is used to oppress, it is not true religion; it is corrupted.

An EXTREMIST to me, is a man or woman of any race or religion who does not respect the rights of people different from himself or herself. Being covered or being naked are just physical details. Real extremism is a disease of mind.

For example, I choose to be Muslim and my neighbor chooses to be atheist, but we co-exist peacefully without imposing our views on each other. Extremism is if he attacks a masjid or I ignore his existence. But our families get along and help each other out when needed. He's an ex-cop so when we have a backyard party and bend the law a bit, we let him know beforehand so no one will bother us.

@Jeff10 Nudists have their own communities. Mormon Christians and Fundamentalist Muslims have multiple wives but keep them illegally. Marrying a child can be prosecuted as rape and trafficking. And same-sex marriage is now legal in some US states.
04:27 January 20, 2012 by Jeff10

But what if my religion were to require that I never wear clothes, but not require that I live in a nudist colony? Besides, nudist colonies have nothing to do with religion. Again, if the goal is to accommodate all religions and personal beliefs, why can't a man have multiple wives or a woman multiple husbands? How is this different from allowing same-sex marriage? This same reasoning applies to age of consent, if one's religion not only allows, but encourages marriage at puberty, by what authority does the state impose its view on such marriages?
20:14 January 20, 2012 by Sarahfaz

Good question. When religious beliefs conflict with federal or state laws, law triumphs. My country no longer follows its Constitution properly and limits citizens' rights in lieu of "safety" - fear of terrorism. Fear is justified but there are constitutionally sound methods to deal with it (Ron Paul's platform. Although all politicians should be taken with a grain of salt, because who knew President Obama would prove weak?)

To answer your question. In secular states like France, Turkey and China, religion faces oppression. In theocratic states like Saudi Arabia and Spain until recently, religion oppresses. In countries where law and religion are separated like UK and US, multiple religions are freely practiced and unable to oppress each other. I'm biased in favor of UK/US system; it's the only one I've experienced. I don't mind nude colonies and niqab clad women co-existing if it makes them happy. Neither of them will be able to hold a decent job in a public setting, but if that's not their priority, who are we to judge?
19:29 January 23, 2012 by Chickybee
Good to see so many responses to this article - the freedom to debate is wonderful.

I agree that the burqa and niqab are nothing to do with Islam - they are just very old cultural traditions that while they can be used at home - have no place in Sweden... or have we forgotten that little matter?
02:17 January 24, 2012 by Moshe
"This is a bad ruling, which means that it will be up to each individual teacher to determine if you have the right to an education or not. That's a basic right for everyone, regardless of which religious background you have," she told TT."

The teacher shouldn't have a say. It should be enforced by all teachers.

If someone wants to wear an Islamic veil while in school, then one should go to a religious school that accepts the practise.

Public schools have students from many different religions. Leave religion out of school.
14:45 January 25, 2012 by kashmiri81
@chikkybee ...... I am really to say that you are wrong ....

I dont know u like burka , veil , hijab , scarf etc or not , but it is not cultural but religious part of Islam .

So I request apart from the fact u like or dislike .... dont try to change the Islamic facts ... just to prove your self libral or modern :)

Thanks in advance
15:39 January 29, 2012 by Chickybee

Every day Islam is in the news in Sweden - if it's not a jihadist bomber abroad who's 'Swedish' on paper it's yet another example of how minority of Muslims just cannot be integrated and have 'problems' with the non-Muslim society they are living in. It's getting tiring but when anyone mentions the growing numbers of Muslims leaving Islam and the Council of Ex-Muslims we have imams threatening death on Swedish radio.

I have lived and worked in Saudi and Egypt. The burqa is a cultural form of dress given the climatic conditions. I think YOU need to get YOUR facts right. It's also time that Muslim men started to be as devout as the women they force to be covered up and blame for their acts of lewdness. And also please refrain from being disrespectful to Swedish women because you do not tolerate the same kind of behaviour from non-Muslims.

ALL immigrants have to comply with Swedish law but the interresting fact is that other religious groups are underrepresented in non-integration other than Muslims. it's the same all over Europe. It's a fact,

I don't need to justify myself to anyone as I am not trying to hurt or cause any harm just pointing out things the way I see them as a Christian European in the country of my ancestors.
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