Fatima turned back at the entrance to the municipality of Etterbeek. In the case: wearing the hijab

According to Vincent de Wolf (MR), Mayor of Etterbeek, “This is not an event, created by people who want to make it big.“Highlights the fact that the municipality of Etterbeek has paid money to the ambassadors.”At Etterbeek, we believe impartiality applies when an activity is financed from public funds and especially that the activity took place in a very symbolic room, the Council Chamber. Persons exercising communal power may not wear political, trade union, or religious symbols. We can be for or against, but that’s what our texts are! I wasn’t there that day, I might have made another decision. It must also be said that one of the facilitators called us herself to ask if one of the facilitators was wearing a headscarf..” Communication : “I specify that we have postponed the activity and suggested discussing it with the stakeholders.. “

Monia Gandibleux admits that they sometimes notify schools of facilitators wearing headscarves: “It’s a real dilemma because by asking the question up front, we sometimes bring up the problem where it hasn’t always existed. If we do not warn, we present the institution with a fait accompli: sometimes we can get in without a problem, sometimes not. For us, this situation should not exist at all. In a perfect society, we shouldn’t tell anyone!

Not everyone seems to share the mayor’s opinion within the municipal administration. The Municipal Council member responsible for social cohesion and participatory democracy Karim Sheikh Hassan (Ekolo) in Grenada explains:My position is clear. The principle of neutrality does not apply to an external service provider. Each department has its own rules, so does that mean the nonprofit has to adapt every time it works in another municipality? The answers to this question diverge. In my opinion, we should not conflict with religious freedom. The debate will take place in the municipal council, shame on us to wait for this issue to discuss it. “

Debate is a valuable tool for young people

Whatever the case, Fatima contacted Unia, the independent public service that fights discrimination, about it. For Nathalie Denies, Head of Individual Support at Unia, this case is the first questions”What is meant by public service. It is increasingly difficult to determine who the public service agents are, particularly because a certain number of private companies operate with public funding and take on public service assignments, such as STIB for example. Does the principle of neutrality apply to all of these?

She explains:When we address the issue of the impartiality of public service agents, we open a Pandora’s box. Neutrality is not defined anywhere, it is only known that the agent should treat all citizens the same way.

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