Education Authorities Block Plan to Create Separate Class for Muslim Students

July 14, 2004

Source: ABC News

Wire Service: AP

On July 14, 2004 the Associated Press reported, "Education authorities in Milan have blocked a plan by a local public school to create a separate class for Islamic students, a decision that fueled an ongoing debate over the role of Muslims in this predominantly Catholic nation. The decision Tuesday came after days of raging controversy in Milan. Over the past months, two other cases have made headlines in Italy: that of a Muslim activist who went to court to have a crucifix removed from his son's public school classroom; and a kindergarten that asked a Muslim trainee teacher to remove her headscarf.The plan by the Gaetana Agnesi school called for 20 high-school students of Egyptian origin three boys and 17 girls to study together. The girls would have been allowed to wear headscarves in class, and would have had Friday off for Muslim prayer services.'The possibility of creating classes with students of the same language, culture and religion must be ruled out, because it would be in contrast with the constitutional principles and values aimed at overcoming all forms of discrimination,' said Mario Giacomo Dutto, the head of school programs for the Lombardy region that includes Milan.Giovanni Gaglio, the school principal, argued he was trying to guarantee the children a right to an education while preserving their cultural and religious identity."