Girl defies ban on tudung in schools


SINGAPORE: An 11-year-old girl, who defied a government ban on wearing tudung to school yesterday, was barred from attending class. 

It was the second straight day that Nur Ashikeen Azhar was turned away for wearing tudung.  

Norashikin Azhar wearing a headscarf holds on to her father Azhar Ali outside Eunos Primary School in Singapore Thursday, Jan. 2, 2003 after being refused entry. - APpic

The issue has caused a stir in Singapore, where about 15% are Muslims. Though many Muslim women wear tudung at work and in public, the government bans them at schools, saying they could be divisive. 

Her father said he would write to the Education Ministry asking it to reconsider its stand and vowed to keep bringing his daughter to school. 

“My daughter wants to come to school but she wants to wear tudung,'' said Azhar Ali, the deputy youth chief of the Singapore Malay National Organisation. 

Authorities in Singapore have been especially sensitive to racial and religious issues following the recent arrest of 31 suspected Islamic terrorists. 

Azhar Ali speaks words of encouragement to daughter Norashikin Azhar after she was refused entry to Eunos Primary School for the second straight day in Singapore, Friday, Jan 3, 2003. - APpic

The tudung issue surfaced last year after four girls were told to either stop wearing or face suspension. Three have since been pulled out of school while the fourth has returned. 

“It is not only about the uniform. The government is now making the Muslim community unhappy and oppressed,'' said Muhamad Ali Aman, the secretary-general of the opposition group. 

On Thursday, Education Minister Teo Chee Hean accused the group of using the tudung issue for political gain, and reiterated the ban. 

“We should actually be concentrating on social bonding,'' said Teo. – AP 

  • Another perspective from The Straits Times, a partner of Asia News Network. 

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