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Knocking down walls

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Education Minister Woravat Au-apinyakul joined with a group of Muslim protesters to knock down a symbolic wall of prejudice after a temple school imposed a ban on wearing the hijab, the Muslim headscarf. 

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Education Minister Woravat Au-apinyakul uses a sledgehammer to help knock down a symbolic wall of prejudice during yesterday’s protest at Government House. CHANAT KATANYU

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Protest over hijab ban

Atitaya Sulaiman is a Mathayom 6 student. Until recently, she was a student at Wat Nong Chok secondary school where she did quite well in her studies with a GPA of 3.5.

Atitaya would like to continue studying at Wat Nong Chok, but things have changed. During the final semester last year, the school, located within the compound of a Buddhist temple, imposed a ban on wearing hijab, or the Muslim headscarf. Atitaya, a Muslim, refused to comply and, according to Haneef Yongstar, a lawyer with the Muslim Group for Peace, she was banned from the school grounds.

With help from members of the group and other volunteers, Atitaya tried home schooling last semester, but her grade point average slipped to 3.1.

On Dec 6, when the school opened for the second semester, she decided to go back to school – with her head covered by the hijab.

Four school deputy directors promptly filed complaints against her.

The next day she was refused entry into a physics class.

On Dec 8, the school security guard stopped her and blocked her from entering the school.

Some of the protesters outside Government House yesterday. CHANAT KATANYU

Yesterday, hundreds of Muslims went to Government House in protest, submitting a letter to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. 

Mr Haneef, who says his group supports religious diversity in schools, pointed out that both the constitution and the Ministry of Education’s regulations allow pupils to cover their heads with a hijab and wear a long-sleeved shirt and skirt.

Education Minister Woravat Au-apinyakul, who received the letter on behalf of the premier, agreed that the dress code for Muslim girls does not conflict with any ministry regulations. He expressed regret for what had happened at the temple school.

He then joined with the protestors in knocking down a symbolic brick wall representing the separation between Buddhism and Islam.

Nobody at the school could be reached for comment yesterday.

Adapted from a story in today's Bangkok Post by Lamphai Intathep.

sledgehammer – a large heavy hammer with a long handle ค้อนขนาดใหญ่มาก
symbolic – representing something important, but in this case, not the real thing เป็นสัญญาณ เป็นสัญลักษณ์
prejudice – an unreasonable opinion or feeling ความมีอคติ, ความลำเอียง
protest – a meeting or rally, sometimes forceful or violent, of people who strongly disagree with something ชุมนุมประท้วง
semester – one of the two periods that a school year is divided into in some countries ภาคการศึกษา
located – where something is ตั้งอยู่
compound – an area in which a group of buildings stands บริเวณ
impose – to introduce something and force people to accept it  กำหนด,บังคับใช้
ban – an official statement ordering people not to do, sell or use something การห้าม
headscarf – a piece of cloth that a woman or girl wears on her head and ties under her chin ผ้าคลุมศีรษะ (ของผู้หญิง)
refuse – to say you will not do something that someone has asked you to do ปฏิเสธ
comply – to obey a rule or law or do what someone asks you to do  ปฏิบัติตาม (กฎหมาย, ข้อเสนอ, etc.)
lawyer – an attorney ทนาย
grounds – an area of land around a building or set of buildings บริเวณ, สถานที่
volunteer – someone who is not paid for the work that they do อาสาสมัคร
slip – to fall to a lower level; to become worse ตกต่ำ,เสื่อม,เสื่อมโทรม
deputy – a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation รอง
promptly – in an immediate or quick way ทันที
file a complaint –to make an official statement that someone has done something wrong ยื่นคำร้อง
block – to stop someone/ something from moving through or along something else  ปิดกั้น, กีดขวาง
submit – to formally give something to someone so that can make a decision about it ยื่น (เอกสาร) เพื่อการพิจารณา
diversity – including many different types of things or people ความหลากหลาย
constitution – the set of laws and basic principles that a country in governed by รัฐธรรมนูญ
regulation – an official rule that controls the way that things are done กฎระเบียบ
on behalf of – as a representative of ในนามของ ในฐานะของ
dress code – rules about what clothes people should wear at work, school, etc.
regret – to feel sadness about something sad or wrong or about a mistake that you or someone else has made, and a wish that it could have been different and better เสียใจ
separation – the condition of being kept apart or divided from other people, countries, etc. การแบ่งแยก
comment – expressing an opinion แสดงความคิดเห็น

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