A decision by a Copenhagen school to ban fathers from school meetings out of respect for Muslim mothers has aroused a justifiable outrage from those who believe in human rights. Holberg School scheduled a meeting with parents to discuss bullying issues and the school which contains students from various backgrounds informed Danish and immigrant born fathers they could not attend the meeting. The principal said she was trying to reach out to Muslim mothers who ordinarily remain silent at such meetings. “We have immigrant parents in particular whose husbands believe that women should not take part in something if other men are present.”
Many Danish are shocked at this decision. I taught at a New York City college which had many Muslim students including females who wore the niqab. I took them aside and made clear I respected their right to wear whatever they desired, but in my class we did group work and sometimes they would be in a group with males. After we talked out the issues, they accepted the reality they were in an American public institution and would have to adapt their values to the society in which they lived. I am certain some of the immigrant fathers work in businesses in which they are constantly in contact with women and, may even have a female boss.