Allow kids to refuse religious ceremonies on school trips: Dutch MPs

A child walks near members of the Muslim community attending midday prayers at Strasbourg Grand Mosque in Strasbourg, France
A child walks near members of the Muslim community attending midday prayers at Strasbourg Grand Mosque in Strasbourg, France . (Portaloko)

The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, adopted a motion that will allow kids in public schools to refuse participating in religious acts during a school trip to a religious institution like a church, mosque or synagogue. Parents can apply for an exemption for their kids, the motion states, RTL Nieuws reports. 

The motion was filed by SGP parliamentarian Roelof Bisschop. According to him, the SGP is increasingly approached by complaining parents after their children visited a mosque and participated in religious acts there. The parents wonder whether their kids were obliged to participate. 

"A trip to a mosque, or any other place of worship, is great", Bisschop said, according to the broadcaster. "We think it's good that children get acquainted with other cultures, because in the end we have to live together with all those cultures in the Netherlands. But also participating in religious activities during an outing, a child must be able to say no to that."

Parents consciously send their children to public school te receive a neutral education, Bisschop said. "If you have always been told at home that something is not allowed, like praying to Maria, or kneeling in the mosque, and you then have to do this during a school trip, you can get problems with your conscience. Yes, even as a child", he said, though added that he did not speak with any children with guilty consciences. 

The SGP therefore wants the Minister to allow parents to exempt their public school children from such actions. Now that a majority of the Kamer adopted the motion, the Minister will investigate whether this can be made possible in the law.

Anti-Islam party PVV wanted to go even further and filed a motion to completely ban school trips to mosques, but this received little support in the Kamer. 

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