Action Alert!

Headscarves in Catholic schools

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Sep 03, 2003

Courtesy of Fox News, we have a transcript of this on-target commentary from news anchor David Asman:

The Council on American Islamic Relations, known as CAIR, is an organization determined to stamp out prejudice against Muslims in America. Anti-Muslim bias is a nasty side effect of the war on terror that often goes unrecognized by non-Muslims. So when CAIR came to the defense of a 17-year-old Muslim girl in Cleveland, who isn't allowed to wear her traditional headscarf to school, the news media took note.

On the face of it, the school's policy seems prejudicial, except for one thing: The school in question is a private, Catholic school with a strict dress code. Uniforms play a key role in the school's handbook, which states: "No hats, no bandannas or head wraps are permitted."

But despite the explicit instructions, and despite the fact that the school established a special prayer space for its Muslim students, CAIR continues to charge the school with prejudice. This left one educator to ask, "Would CAIR come to the defense of a Christian student barred from talking about Jesus in a Muslim school?"

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: - Sep. 07, 2003 11:11 PM ET USA

    Is it me or is it odd that a Catholic school provides prayer space for Muslim students? The school's administrators find this appropriate? If one signs up for a Catholic education then I assume they understand that part of that is learning about Jesus Christ, and therefore learning about Catholic culture and prayer practice (!?). While ecumenicism is important, I think Catholic education is at the foundation of the new evangelization. We might ponder and prayerfully examine this, I think.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 07, 2003 6:27 PM ET USA

    Sounds like headline-grabbing special pleading to me -- the parents of this girl knowingly enrolled her in a private school with a published dress code. And let's be realistic -- a 17-year old is not naive. I, for one, am more than weary of such manipulative tactics by Moslems in this country. I hope the school will stand by its principles and not set a bad precedent for itself and other like institutions.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Sep. 04, 2003 9:45 AM ET USA

    For more on the headcovering for Catholic women: The school is pondering reversing its decision. We'll see if the reversal (if it happens) is reported in the Daily Times of Pakistan.

  • Posted by: windsor - Sep. 03, 2003 8:09 PM ET USA

    Bring back the "mantillas"!!

  • Posted by: - Sep. 03, 2003 6:10 PM ET USA

    As a Catholic institution, they should be sympathetic to the cause and allow the girl to wear her headscarf with her uniform. i see no conflict.