Court Upholds Government's Right to Ban Turbans in Schools

November 23, 2004

Source: Jerusalem Post

On November 23, 2004 the Jerusalem Post reported, "Malaysia's second highest court has upheld the right of government schools to bar male Muslim students from wearing turbans to class, drawing protests from the Islamic opposition. In a landmark decision, the Appeal Court ruled Monday that the headmistress of a school in Negeri Sembilan state acted within her powers by expelling three students in July 1997 for wearing Islamic turbans in violation of a state-enforced dress code. Religious rights are a sensitive subject in multiethnic Malaysia. About two-thirds of the country's 25 million people are Malay Muslims. The rest are ethnic Chinese and Indians, who are mostly Christians, Buddhists or Hindus. In a bid to prevent racial friction, the government does not allow religious symbols in schools but makes some concessions - Muslim girls are allowed to wear headscarves but not veils, and Sikh boys can wear turbans."