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Catholic school in Zamboanga agrees to lift ban on Muslim veils

September 16, 2012 6:44pm
A private Catholic college in Zamboanga City has agreed to lift a ban on wearing hijabs in the school, after an appeal by a government agency representing Filipino Muslims.

A hijab is a veil worn by Muslim women to cover their hair and neck area, especially around non-related adult males.

The Pilar College Administration, in a joint statement with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), said it will allow “the voluntary wearing of hijab” within the school premises.

The school decided to lift the ban after the Roman Catholic nuns who run the educational institution conducted talks with government officials from the NCMF last Friday.

Muslims students in Zamboanga and other Mindanao cities have traditionally enrolled in private Christian schools, where administrators have generally been tolerant of Muslim practices.

PIlar College has grade school to collegel levels.

Last July, the school was criticized after it banned the wearing of the hijab among its Muslim students, citing academic freedom. The decision, however, was seen as a violation of Muslim students' religious freedom.

The ban prompted NCMF Secretary Mehol Sadain to write to the school, asking its administrators to reconsider its policy.

In the joint statement, the Pilar College administration also vowed to “encourage interfaith and intra-faith dialogues among Muslims and Christians."

The NCMF, for its part, committed to assisting the school in its program to strengthen Christian-Muslim relations.

In the Philippines, more than 80 percent of the nearly 100 million Filipinos are Roman Catholics, while Muslims form a large minority, estimated by the National Statistical Coordination Board as constituting 4.6 percent of the population as of January 2011. — BM/HS, GMA News
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