In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CAIR CONDEMNS TUNISIAN BAN ON ISLAMIC HEADSCARVES
U.S. Muslim group says ban ‘violates international human rights standards’
(WASHINGTON D.C., 10/18/06) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called on the government of Tunisia to respect the religious rights of women in that nation who choose to wear an Islamic headscarf, or “hijab.”
Media reports indicate that Tunisian police are stopping women on the streets and asking them to take off their headscarves and to sign a pledge that they will not wear a scarf again. A 1981 Tunisian law prohibits Islamic attire in schools or government offices.
SEE: Tunisia Moves Against Headscarves (BBC)
In a statement, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:
“Freedom of religion should be a valued aspect of any society. People of all faiths must be granted the right to freely practice their religion without government interference or intimidation.
“The Tunisian law banning Islamic attire in certain areas, and the apparent expanded interpretation of that law, violates international human rights standards set forth by the United Nations and ratified by virtually every nation on earth.
“We call on the government of Tunisia to respect the religious rights of its citizens by ending all measures that restrict the wearing of religiously-mandated headscarves. We also call on the U.S. Department of State to use whatever influence it has to convince Tunisian authorities to abide by international norms of religious freedom.
“Tunisia cannot claim to be a free and open society while carrying out such repressive and authoritarian actions.”
CAIR’s statement noted that Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a transnational treaty having the weight of international law states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. . .(and) to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
In the past, CAIR has defended the right to wear Islamic attire in France and Turkey. The council has also defended hijab and other religious rights in American schools and workplaces.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group, has 32 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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