/ 23 January 2013

W Cape school denies Muslim siblings entry for wearing head dress

It was reported by Die Burger on Wednesday that Sakeenah Dramat (16) and her brother Bilaal (13) were asked through the course of the day by the teachers at their new high school to remove their head coverings.

It is common for Muslim women to wear a hijaab, or head scarf, and men a mosque hat called a fez.

When Sakeenah refused to remove her head scarf her parents were called.

Sakeenah's mother, Nabila Dramat, said: “The school said last year that they are allowed to wear the head scarves, as long as it is in the colours of their school uniform.”

She says that she chose the school intentionally for their strong academics and the fact that it was much closer to where they lived previously.

"Sakeenah wants to study medicine after school and her education is very important to us … My children were embarrassed and traumatised.”

Denied schooling
Sakeenah described how one of the school teachers first asked her if she was hot in her head dress, to which she replied that she was not because she was used to it.

Another teacher called her into a classroom later and said that her head scarf was not part of her uniform and demanded that she remove it.

"I refused and told them to phone my parents." Sakeenah says.

Bilaal, who suffers from anxiety, said: "I didn’t want to make trouble and removed my fez [mosque hat]."

Dramat says that the school's principal, Wilfred Taylor, told her and her husband, Adam, that the children would not be allowed into the school as long as they wore their head dresses.

The children have now been out of school for five days.

Dramat has filed a complaint to the Human Rights Commision, which is currently investigating the case.

The Western Cape education deparment was unavailable to comment at the time of publishing this story.