One of the given reasons is that the female pupils did not want to have to wear veils during PE, which is obligatory among Islamic fundamentalists as long as men or boys are nearby.
"Some of our girls want to be able to take off their headscarves and wear shorts and t-shirts during classes. This would be difficult if their male peers or male teachers were around," PE teacher Nina Da Mata explained.
Unsurprisingly, al-Azhar School was shortly thereafter reported to the country's School Inspectorate for "gender segregation," "promoting the permanent subordination of women" as well as endangering the Swedish education system's mission to "counteract traditional gender roles."
Håkan Larsson, a professor at the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, has criticized the authorities' decision. According to him, Sweden simply does not dare to go against Islam.
"Had this been another school, the decision would have been to make the school target their gender problems and solve them," Larsson said.
The Al-Azhar school currently has 700 students and is described as "Europe's largest independent school with a Muslim profile." Everyday life in al-Azhar is permeated with Islam. According to al-Azhar's website, the school cafeteria serves exclusively halal food, and students have a place to pray during the afternoon break.segregated swimming hours for female customers, whereas organizers of summer festivals enacted 'girls-only' zones to secure women from harassment.
The size of Sweden's Muslim community remains a matter of debate. Estimates range as high as 500,000 practicing worshippers in a country of almost 10 million. The reason for the dispute is that registration by personal belief is illegal and regarded as "discriminatory."