Does a Catholic Ethos Preclude the Wearing of Hijab?
June 13, 2008
The Sunday Business Post has revealed that a south Dublin school apparently banned the hijab, citing its Catholic ethos as justification for this action. In this short expose, we contend that there is no such justification for a ban on the hijab, more especially as the school claims Catholicism as its ethos.
"But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonours her head, it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil.” (1 Corinthians 11:3-5).
In accordance with Paul’s injunction, practising Christian women from the time of Paul’s writing until today wear the veil as a sign of obedience. In Catholic tradition, many women wear it to mass; some also choose to wear it anytime they leave the house. The traditional Catholic nun’s attire comes from a type of dress worn by European women in the 12th century – clearly, there is a precedent for covering the hair in Christianity.
While the 1983 Code of Canon Law omitted the requirement to cover the head, many Catholic writers still maintain that it remains obligatory on several grounds, one of which is that the head covering is considered a centennial and immemorial custom “Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 5, a custom, whether contrary to or apart from the law, is revoked by a contrary custom or law. But unless the law makes express mention of them, it does not revoke centennial or immemorial customs, nor does a universal law revoke particular customs.” (Canon 28)
One Catholic website offers suggestions on how young Catholic girls and women can cover their heads. It suggests:
· the classic Catholic lace mantillas
· lace chapel caps (this is for young girls)
· oblong gauzy or cotton scarves worn over the head and over one or both shoulders, or tied in various ways
· standard-sized square chiffon or cotton scarves folded into a triangle and worn tied under the chin in the Jackie-O style or tied behind the head in the peasant style, etc.
· large square scarves worn "babushka" style (fold large 36" square scarf into a triangle and place over head with the "tail" side hanging down in back. Then turn back the pointy ends behind the head and tie into a bow or make a knot over the "tail").
· shawls worn over the head
· elegant but simple hats (cloches, toques, berets, "Lady Diana" hats, etc.)
There is obviously NO JUSTIFICATION for banning the hijab, and recourse to ‘Catholic ethos’ is simply a ploy to mask the real reasons this school has chosen to discriminate against Muslim children, at least Ruairi Quinn didn’t mince his words.
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