11 July 2024

The Administrative Court in Thailand’s southern province of Yala issued a ruling on Thursday against a ban on the wearing of the hijab, or head scarf, in school.

The landmark ruling ends four years of court battles between about 20 parents of students attending a school in Pattani on the one hand and the Ministry of Education and the school on the other.

Anuban Pattani School, which is located in the grounds of a Buddhist temple, teaches pre-school and primary students, the majority of whom are Buddhist.

A mother of one of the students said Thursday that they have been waiting for this ruling from the court for four years. She added that the court’s decision sends a message to the Islamic community in Thailand that they have the right to practice their religion and to dress in accordance with the Muslim dress code and that any rule which forbids such practices has no place in Thai society.

Four years ago the school banned its female students from wearing the hijab and boys from wearing long trousers, claiming that it is against Education Ministry regulation.

A parent of a student at the school, then contacted other parents who share his opposition to the ban and filed a petition with the Administrative Court in Songkhla province, seeking to overturn the ban, as they challenged the legitimacy of the rule.

The Songkhla Administrative Court issued an injunction on October 29th, 2018, putting a hold on the enforcement of the rule and prohibiting the school from taking punitive action against students who defy it. The court also ordered the case transferred to the Administrative Court in Yala.

The court’s ruling can still be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court.

Pattani is one of the provinces in the Deep South of Thailand whose majority population is Muslim.