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Sweden changes rules on school veils

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Teachers in Swedish schools may ban religious clothing if it keeps them from interacting with students or creates safety problems, officials said Wednesday.

The Swedish National Agency for Education released guidelines for teachers, TT/The Local reported. Under the new policy, teachers cannot issue a blanket ban against headscarves, and schools must try to accommodate students' religious views.

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The agency began rethinking its policy after two women said they were denied access to adult education classes because of a ban on veils that cover the face. The Equality Ombudsman ruled in December 2010 that they were victims of discrimination.

Education Minister Jan Bjorklund said the policy gives schools "room to maneuver."

"Classroom lectures are an interplay between people, and in many situations, such interactions require that you can see each others' faces," he said.

Rossana Dinamarca, the education spokeswoman for the Left Party, told TT the new regulations give teachers too much power.

"This is a bad ruling, which means that it will be up to each individual teacher to determine if you have the right to an education or not. That's a basic right for everyone, regardless of which religious background you have," she said.

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