The teacher, Tuija Rinnie, happens to also be a convert to Islam, but that wasn’t enough for some of the muslim immigrant parents, she had to be covered up in the hijab as well. It almost humorous to read how much of a shock it was to her, being not only expected to cover up, but being ridiculed for teaching belly dancing as well. KGS
Helsinki teacher was also expected (by parents) to wear a veil
I hope that through my story would arise a discussion of Finnish immigrant children in schools and in society, says the Arabic language teacher Tuija Rinne.Rinne teaches in a school in Helsinki. Previously, she taught the religion of Islam.
Some of the children’s parents were requiring that Rinne wear the veil, as the women may have used Muslim culture.
– This is a small but vocal number of parents. They do not always tell their opinions directly, but I got wind of it through back channel sources.
– When I’m done with a direct interaction with their parents, consensus is often born. Some have even asked me privately for forgiveness.
In extreme cases, some parents have forbidden their children to participate in Rinne’s classes.
Rinne says that the case in question, she is not accused of anything. The Muslim parents’ behavior is based on the fact that they did not believe her, as a Finn, to be qualified to work as a teacher of Islam. For them, the use of the veil would be evidence of eligibility.
– They have been proven many times that I have a degree from the University of Helsinki, and I am qualified to serve as a teacher.Most of the Helsinki metropolitan area, and Islam and the Arabic language teachers have an immigrant background.
Rinne says her experience of pressure from the parents, to be a very tough.
– Fortunately, I have had the full support of my employer.
Rinne does not want to bring any particular point out that her religion is Muslim, because it is to her a personal matter.
– Finnish law is clear that teachers of religion do not need to be a member of that denomination. Besides, the world is full of millions of Muslim women who do not use a veil.
Some of the students’ parents have been even shocked that in Rinne’se free time, she teaches oriental dance, or belly dancing.
According to Rinne, some of the pressure is partly due to the fact that some children have had difficulties to succeed in the classroom. If the child has received a poor test grade, it has been interpreted that the teacher is teaching badly.
– This, however, sometimes students do, regardless of cultural background.
Now the situation has calmed down around Rinne, because she can now concentrate on just teaching the Arabic language.
Since last autumn the same teachers do not teach anymore in Helsinki, Islam, and immigrants in their native language. For example, in Vantaa, such a differentiated practice has been in the past.
Rinne believes that the difficulties experienced are part of the challenge of multiculturalism that Finnish schools and society are facing.