A few months ago, the talk of the town was the decision made by a number of catholic private schools to prohibit the wearing of the veil among school girls as a sign of their religious belonging. The case which drew more attention and caused a lot of commotion in the Senegalese capital was with the secondary school Jeanne d’Arc run by the Catholic Church. Indeed, the incident was peacefully settled but it raised a lot of concerns and questions as to Senegal as a secular nation, the right to attend a school of one’s choosing based on the universal right to education etc……

Now that the dust has settled, the IFAN Research Unit on Cultural Engineering (URICA) teamed up with the West African Research Center (WARC) and a line-up of fine scholars and academics to further investigate the issue with a focus on the symbolic materialization of one’s religious belonging and inclination through the choice of specific garments and adornments.

Professor Penda Mbow, Historian, Professor Malick Diagne, philosopher, Dr Malado Agne, law specialist, Dr Awa Diop, sociologist, Dr Khadidiatou Dia, specialist of religions, Professor Kalidou Diallo, historian and former senegalese Minister of Education, Dr Charles Owen Ndiaye, educationist, all made presentations on the relation between dress, dress code and religion. Emphasis was also laid on the fact that religious belonging and cultural identity are not in a conflicting relation and neither the Jellaba or the Hijab or the veil makes the Haalim. The event was attended by 43 people and took place at the West African Research Center on Wednesday, December 11.

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