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Next Sunday is Mothers’ Day, which means in schools pupils are hard at work making their mother a gift. Except in the Wallonian school ‘Singelijn’ in Brussels’ suburb Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe. The managing board of the school sent out an email to the pupil’s parents yesterday that they will not be making presents for Mother’s Day:

out of respect for all the other cultures that enrich our school. A diversity that makes us extremely proud.

Fathers shouldn’t expect a gift either. According to the headmistress, Dominique Paquot.

“because different cultures are represented in our school. And not all of those celebrate these days.(…) We’ve toyed with the idea for some time. Also because more and more children’s parents are divorced. Some have two mothers or two fathers, others don’t have a father or a mother. This causes a lot of stress with a lot of children.

This line of reasoning is not endorsed by all parents. “This is a tradition that has nothing to do with religion,” according to one mother. “What is better than being spoiled on Mother’s Day by a gift made by your child in school? Surely that is something in common with all cultures?” an angry father writes on Facebook.

The school’s email has come to the attention of Zuhal Demir (N-VA), the secretary of state for Equal Opportunities, who tweeted:”have we completely given up on integration? This is not an expression of respect. This is cowardice.

The headmistress has since admitted that she underestimated the emotional response by some parents and that her timing, four days before Mother’s Day, might not have been ideal. But it’s too late now for the children to make a gift.