Swedish anti-discrimination ombudsman declares ban on Islamic headscarf illegal

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Deputy Anti-Discrimination Ombudsperson Martin Mörk pointed out that “with the exception of situations where such clothing affects the objective conditions of a student or employee to perform an educational element or task, the prohibition constitutes direct discrimination based on religion and other beliefs “.

At the end of 2019, the Moderate Liberal-Conservative Party, the Swedish National-Conservative Democrats and the Local Skurup Party joined together to ban Islamic headgear in the town of Skurup, Skåne County, as well as in schools and schools. nursery schools in the surrounding municipality. The ban covers scarves, burqas, niqabs and other clothing intended to conceal the face and is valid for students and staff.

Earlier in 2019, the moderately governed municipality of Staffanstorp in the same county of Skåne decided to introduce “zero tolerance” for Islamic headgear for young children as part of its integration plan. The ban was designed to ensure that equality and Swedish values ​​apply.

Both cases sparked heated debate in the media and harsh condemnation from liberal politicians that they constitute negative prejudice, oppression and an attack on religious freedom and women’s rights. Their opponents countered that secular traditions should be maintained, cited the French ban as an example, and stressed that it is Islamic headgear that is deeply oppressive to women and has no place in feminist Sweden. Some have argued that allowing religious hairstyles is a slippery slope.

“If you accept that women have to cover their faces, what are you going to accept tomorrow? Do you also intend to accept polygamy, child marriage, etc.?” Asked the Democrat Swedish Lars Nyström during the debate.

The number of Muslims in Sweden has skyrocketed in recent decades, from several hundred in the 1950s to over 800,000 in a country of over 10 million today. The conflict between the Islamic view of society and Swedish feminist philosophy has raised issues hitherto unknown to the largely homogeneous and predominantly Lutheran nation. Among other things, some Nordic Muslims may find it difficult to come to an agreement on issues such as women’s rights and the acceptance of sexual minorities, which are seen as basic elements of Nordic society.


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