Niqab: UiO is critical to a total ban. Photo illustration: archive.
Niqab: UiO is critical to a total ban. Photo illustration: archive.

UiO rejects proposed niqab ban

In a response to the Department of Education, UiO was clear that it would not accept a ban on face coverings.

University of Oslo has responded to the Department of Education in regards to a proposed ban on niqabs and other face coverings.

«We shouldn’t implement restrictions that signal some students are more welcome than others,» the report concluded. «Even though this affects very few students, it’s a matter of principle that comes into conflict with the tolerance that must characterize higher education.»

Uniforum was the first to break the story.

Inclusion emphasized

The Department of Education started the discussion, asking about a ban on garments that «entirely or partly cover the face, worn in kindergartens or educational institutions.» The proposal is only the first step in a potential new policy or law.

Although UiO is clearly critical to a general ban, it is still possible for the university to regulate students’ clothing in certain situations.

«In certain classes there are rules regarding health, environment, or safety requirements that may be incompatible with certain forms of clothing,» the university stated.

The response emphasizes that the university is for everyone, that it would be unfortunate to indicate otherwise.

«Knowledge is crucial in the fight against prejudice and for human rights,» the report said, «and access to education is one of the best ways to achieve these goals.»

UiO second to reject

Most higher education institutions are expected to produce a response. UiO is the second, after Høgskulen i Volda (HVO) to answer. HVO also expressed skepticism to a general ban. The deadline for responses is Sept. 20.

UiO’s response was signed by Director of the University Gunn-Elin Aa. Bjørneboe, and Department of Academic Administration Director Hanne Ekeli.

Bjørneboe did not wish to comment on the case. «It’s a very political issue,» she said.