A Christian school’s decision to forbid girls wearing Muslim veils from attending a convocation has sparked controversy in Jerusalem.
The Rosary Sister’ School in East Jerusalem and its administration face intimidation and threats by Palestinian families for their allegedly banning of girls from wearing the hijab, a veil that covers the head of Muslim women.
The decision came to a head earlier last week, after young women were forbidden from attending a graduation ceremony, reported the Gatesone Institute think tank.
Christian families considered bringing the Muslim campaign against the school to the attention of the Pope during his trip to the region, but fearful of retribution by Muslims they chose not to.
It is believed the Pontiff was unaware of the campaign, which took place days before his stop in Bethlehem on Sunday.
Tensions between Christians and Muslims resurfaced last week with the school’s enforcement of their zero-tolerance policy of the rule it had instituted years earlier.
In response, Palestinian families of the 17 girls forbidden from attending the graduation, along with dozens of Palestinian Muslims, staged a demonstration against the school, accusing its directors of “racism” and “intolerance.” It was the first time that Muslims had demonstrated against a Christian institution in the city.
The Christian school has a majority of Muslim students. While many Muslims strongly condemned the school administration for “combating Islam,” others came out in defense of the Christian institution and noted the hypocrisy of the protesters.
“This is a missionary school and were it not for the presence of Muslim students it would have closed a long time ago,” said Ali, a Muslim from Jerusalem.
Some protesters went as far as to use derogatory terms to denounce the nuns who are in charge of the school, demanding they also remove their head covers in return for the ban on the hijab. While some called for the school’s closure, others went as far as proposing that Muslims seize control of the school and turn it into an Islamic institution.
But some Muslims defended the school’s decision, saying parents who are unhappy should not send their girls to Christian schools in the first place.
Making a comparison to illustrate the existence of a double-standard, a Palestinian named Rami said: “Would an Islamic school or college allow a Christian girl to enter its premises without a hijab?” he asked.
“I am a Muslim woman and I agree with the school,” said Razan from East Jerusalem. “To make it short, it is a Christian school and if you want to put on a hijab go to a Muslim school.” (D.C.L.)