By Amir Mawallil
July 31, 2012
Pilar College has prohibited its female Muslim students from wearing the traditional hijab in the school premises. The city council has passed a resolution questioning the policy, but the Catholic school has stood firm in its decision.
Most Muslim women wear the veil to practice their faith, although its use has been a fodder for controversy. In 2010, France passed a law banning the use of Islamic veils in public places.
While predominantly Catholic, Zamboanga is host to a large Muslim community and serves as the commercial and trading gateway for Muslim-dominated provinces such as Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. It’s also host to a large Catholic university, the Ateneo de Zamboanga, which allows its female Muslim students to wear Islamic veils.
In a July 9 letter to Mayor Celso Lobregat, Sister Maria Nina Balbas, president of Pilar College, confirmed that the school is implementing the ban. “Our origin is Roman Catholic and we cannot deviate from that origin,” Balbas said. “It is true we cater to students of different religions, but before they are officially enrolled, during interviews of student applicants, rules and regulations are explained to them particularly the non-wearing of the hijab or veil.”
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