The hashtag #No_for_forced_auction has been issued on social media sites in Iraq, following the growing talk of forcing the veil on schoolgirls.
Feminist activists launched a protest campaign demanding that an official decision be issued by the Ministry of Education banning “imposing the veil as a condition for academic admission” and punishing anyone who imposes it.
The purpose of the campaign
The BBC Trend blog spoke to Iraqi media and feminist writer Heba Al-Nabeeb, who said the aim of the campaign was to “take people’s opinions and beliefs into account and accept different groups in Iraqi society. “
She added: “The veil is a personal freedom, and it is assumed that schools teach and educate about morals and respect for the rights of others with their different religious and cultural orientations, not the other way around.”
And the deputy was of the opinion that “the increasing number of cases of the imposition of the veil on female student teachers, and the lack of intervention by the Ministry of Education to prevent the imposition of the forced veil on them, has prompted many to vote by elevating social media.”
Heba Al-Nabeeb says that through this campaign, the Iraqi woman expresses her “rejection of the coercive interference that is practiced on girls and forces them to follow patriarchal policies and symbols that aim to cancel her personhood and her decision to wear which confirmed her fit. .”
And she continued, “This policy came from the personal zeal of some teachers or administrators, because they follow Islamic parties that work to form women under a specific framework to control them and pass their masculinity by suppressing these actions force.”
The representative rejected what she described as “systematic practices against Iraqi women and their use as a tool to achieve personal male interests,” emphasizing “her struggle in this field to support Iraqi women.”
Women for Women team
In our conversation with the “Women for Women” team, the launcher of the #No_for_forced_hijab campaign, represented by its director, Dina Al-Ayoubi, the feminist activist for women’s and children’s rights, confirmed to BBC Trend that “the campaign started started after feminist activists in women’s rights received a large number of complaints about the imposition of the veil.” Coercion by the school administration and threats and intimidation in case of non-compliance with the wearing thereof.
She added that this is done “either by transferring to another school, assaulting female students with verbal, psychological and physical violence, forcing them to do cleaning work, dismissal through absenteeism, or having marks from their academic deducting degrees.”
According to Al-Ayoubi, the team created a questionnaire about the “forced veiling of girls in schools” with the aim of conducting a census of these schools in violation of the law, and to create a campaign against the imposition of forced veiling in schools on female children.
When we asked Dina Al-Ayoubi about the goals of the campaign, she said:
- Issuance of an official decision by the Iraqi Ministry of Education to prevent the imposition of forced veiling as a condition for academic admission and to punish anyone who imposes it.
- Hold accountable anyone who has verbally or physically abused or abused female students or male students.
- “The execution of realistic questionnaires on educational institutions and universities on a regular basis, and the necessity of the participation of the Human Rights Committee in the Ministry of Education and human rights organizations.”
- “Work to find radical solutions, not patchwork, to advance educational and educational reality.”
Al-Ayoubi also noted that “there is no legal text that gives educational institutions the right to impose the veil,” and that if it is imposed by the school administration, “a complaint against this school to the Ministry of Education or filed a lawsuit because this behavior is against the constitution.” .
Al-Ayoubi pointed out that the Ministry of Education had previously explained that “there is no generalization from it that imposes the veil as a condition for academic acceptance.”
She also explained that the campaign had an account on the Instagram website, but it was closed after a large number of opponents of the campaign registered complaints against it with the website’s management.
Activists on social media expressed their opinion that “the imposition of the veil is a manifestation of gender discrimination and the imposition of patriarchy,” as they described it.
Tweeters also published examples of their personal experiences in schools.
However, not all the reactions on the communication sites were in favor of the campaign, as many on the other side defended the wearing of the veil and its imposition in Iraqi schools.
This is due to the sensitivity of the issue of wearing or removing the veil in Iraqi society due to its customs and traditions, in addition to religious legacies.
Misleading video spread
As part of the campaign’s supporters’ efforts to promote it, some of them made the mistake of publishing a misleading video clip, which they said showed “a professor in a school beating students who don’t wear the hijab, and that they are no more than ten years old.”
This allegation was widely circulated, and many local media reported it without investigation, stating that it was one of the reasons why the campaign was launched.
Dina Raad Al-Ayoubi, one of the campaign supervisors, confirmed that the video had nothing to do with the campaign and that it was not filmed in Iraq.
In fact, this video was filmed in India and posted on Twitter on April 28, 2019.
Iraqi Ministry of Education
On the second of last February, the Iraqi Ministry of Education denied that it had issued any official circular emphasizing that female students wear the hijab in schools, stressing that it was not within its competence.
Ministry spokesman Haider Farouk al-Saadoun said in a press release: “The ministry has not sent any circulars or official letter to school administrations related to forcing female students to wear the hijab.”
“This matter falls within the personal freedom of the students and their parents… School administrations take it upon themselves to determine the school uniform only, provided that it is appropriate to the students’ taste and not enforced by force.”
“The obligation to wear the hijab is not within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, and it does not have the right to oblige female students to wear it or take it off… In the event that a school orders it, it is no more than an internal order.”
The little girl, “Sama Al-Mosuliya”
Many users of communication sites in Iraq remembered the case of the girl Sama, whose death on the second of last February sparked great controversy in Iraq, and this was the reason for the issuance of a statement by the Ministry of Education.
And local media indicated that the student died while taking the midterm exam, due to bleeding after he was “expelled from school for not wearing the hijab.”
At the time, the Nineveh Governorate Police announced the preliminary results of the investigation into the death of the girl, “Sama,” noting that “she was not expelled from the examination room,” and attributed the cause of death to “a heart disease “. .”
At the time, the Iraqi News Agency also quoted the Director General of Nineveh Health, Falah Al-Tai, as saying that “according to the special instructions in the exam, the students must wear the muzzle,” noting that “the director asked the student what died. wearing a muzzle, and when she came back home, her uncle took her to school and on the way she passed away.”
And earlier, the Minister of Education, Ali Hamid Al-Dulaimi, directed an urgent follow-up to the death of the Mosul girl and to determine the merits of the case. And the Iraqi News Agency quoted the ministry’s statement that “Al-Dulaimi made a phone call to the family of the deceased student, “Sama Al-Mosuliya”, one of the students of the Agadir Girls School of Nineveh Education, and the urgent follow-up to the incident of her death and to determine the merits of the case.”
Mr. Abdul Rahman Hani Al-Dabbagh, director general of Nineveh Education, indicated in a televised statement that he “immediately took all necessary measures to find out the details of the accident.”
But some doubted that the girl’s death was caused by a heart disease.
Some based leaks, the sources of which were not clear, on the fact that the cause of death in the initial medical report was “a significant expansion of the arteries due to a panic attack to which Sama was exposed.”
Later, the principal was arrested, before she was released on bail after the child’s father, Sama, gave up.
The guardian of the deceased student, “Sama Muhammad Ragheb”, decided to waive the judicial complaint registered against the “Agadir” school in the city of Mosul, in the center of the Nineveh governorate, and said : “It’s not our fault to file. lawsuits against women.”
And local media reported that “the investigating judge of the Mosul court / right side (Ashraf Al-Abadi) released the director of the Agadir school on a financial bail of 10 million Iraqi dinars, according to article 411 BC, after the plaintiff waived the personal right, the father of the victim.”
The Ministry of Education named a school in Mosul after the late student “Sama Muhammad”, and the announcement was seen by Mr. Abdul Rahman Hani Al-Dabbagh, Director General of Nineveh Education, and Muhammad Ragheb, the child’s father.