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Saturday, April 1, 2017

‘Unacceptable’: Italian Officials Outraged After Girl’s Hair Shaved Off for Not Wearing Muslim Veil

Italians react strongly to culture clash

© Cheryl Ravelo / Reuters

The story of a migrant girl, whose head was shaved by her mother for not wearing a Muslim veil, has sparked outrage among Italian politicians, some of whom advised migrants who are unwilling to embrace the Italian lifestyle to “change country.”

The 14-year-old girl of Bangladeshi origins, residing in Bologna, managed to trick her parents for a period of time – wearing the veil at home, but taking it off while at school.

The deception apparently ended on Wednesday, as the girl was caught by her mother and promptly punished by having her head shaved for not wearing a veil.

Her lack of hair raised suspicions in school the next day, and the girl told her teachers about the punishment and alleged months-long tensions with parents over not complying with their religious beliefs. School officials promptly notified the police and social services of the incident.

The girl has been taken away from the family and placed under the care of local social services along with her sisters, ANSA news agency reported. The parents were placed under investigation for mistreatment of their children.

Politicians agree

The controversial punishment has sparked outrage in Italy, as many politicians are raising concerns over migrants who do not want to blend in with Italian society and comply with local laws and traditions.

Bologna Mayor Virginio Merola condemned the punishment as cruel and unacceptable, and advised those who do not wish to comply with Italian traditions to “change country.”

“If you want to be Italians you must adapt to Italian laws and our constitution. You cannot have different attitudes, otherwise you [should] change the country,” Merola said, as quoted by Il Resto del Carino. 

He called the case a sign of “authoritarianism,” stressing that parents coming to Italy should know that “this is not an acceptable method of education.”

Former Italian PM Matteo Renzi praised the swift actions of Bologna’s social services and the decision to take the girl away from the parents.

“For all of us who are fathers and mothers, such decision can be painful, but it is fair to say that this is a GOOD choice,” Renzi wrote in a Facebook post.

He noted that there can be “no hospitality without the rule of law,” adding that that it “must apply to ALL.”

Even Muslims agree

The Italian Muslim community has also condemned the punishment, stating that wearing the veil for women is not actually obligatory, as some Muslims who stick to “popular Islam” might think.

Despite existing Muslim traditions, “we believe that a choice to wear the veil should remain a choice,” the president of the Union of Islamic Communities of Italy and Imam of Florence Izzeddin Elzir said. 

“Faith is stronger than a garment, forcing the veil has nothing to do with religion,” he pointed out.