A top public school in South Africa's largest city of Johannesburg on Monday withdrew the issuing of concession cards to allow headscarved Muslim students access into the school after a public outrage.
Gauteng province's Education Minister Panyaza Lesufi confirmed that Northcliff High School decided to cancel its decision after parents and activists complained to him about the practice calling it "discriminatory."
Panyaza Lesufi said in a short statement that he had called the school principal who in turn agreed to withdraw the concession cards. He said for the past 20 years the school had been issuing concession cards for any deviation from its school uniform which includes students wearing beards, sneakers trainers or those with health problems. "I explained to him [the principal] how negative and divisive it now reflects in the public eye," Lesufi said.
Social cohesion activist Yusuf Abramjee told Anadolu Agency on Monday that he had raised the issue with the minister after it was brought to his attention by parents. He said there was no need in the first place for students to carry a concession card.
Abeedah Adams, a parent to one of the students who was issued a card, posted a complaint on Twitter Monday saying her daughter had to carry the concession card every school day so as to be allowed to wear her headscarf. She compared the practice to the apartheid system where black South Africans were issued with permits allowing them to travel from one town to another without being arrested. Abramjee and other parents have welcomed the decision and thanked the Education Minister for acting fast on the matter.
South Africa's constitution respects freedom of worship and prohibits any form of discrimination based on religious practice. Muslims account for roughly two percent of South Africa's over 50 million population. Muslims are involved in all sectors of South Africa's economy.