Jenni Hia, the Christian girl whose father challenged her school’s head scarf requirement, lives in Padang, the predominantly Muslim but not particularly conservative capital of West Sumatra.

The origin of Padang’s head scarf rule came to light when the former mayor, Fauzi Bahar, said he had implemented the policy in 2005. Many people protested at first, he said in an interview, but eventually they complied.

Non-Muslim students were not forced to wear a jilbab, but it was “recommended” because of its “many benefits,” he said. “If non-Muslim students do not wear the jilbab,” he said, “it will show them to be a minority.”

Mr. Hia, 56, an air-conditioning installer, has lived in Padang since 1986, and he and his family are part of a small Christian community.

“I live in harmony in my neighborhood,” he said. “I have good relations with my neighbors. They even support me on this issue and they are Muslim.”

After previously attending Christian schools, Mr. Hia’s daughter, Jenni, started attending classes at Padang Vocational Senior Secondary School 2, a public high school, in early January.

The school had not informed the family of the head scarf rule when she enrolled, Mr. Hia said, and she refused to wear one. She received five warnings before the school summoned Mr. Hia to meet with the vice principal.

Before the meeting, he searched for a provincial or education ministry rule requiring religious attire. He found none.

The situation was so “bizarre,” he said, that he decided to record the meeting and stream it live.

“This is the first time I encountered an incident like this,” he said. “I put it on live so there would be no accusation that I was making things up.”

During the meeting, Mr. Hia argued that it was a violation of his daughter’s rights, and of Indonesian law, for a public school to require her to wear the symbol of another religion.

For her to wear a head scarf, he said, was akin to lying about her religious identity.

“Where are my religious rights?” he asked. “Where are my human rights? This is a public school.”

But Mr. Zakri argued that the requirement was in the rule book. “It becomes awkward for the teachers when there are children who do not follow the rules,” he said.

After the meeting, father and daughter signed a statement that she was not willing to wear a head scarf as dictated by school regulations, and that they would await a decision from “a more authoritative official.”

Two days later, after the video went viral, the school’s principal, Rusmadi, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, offered a public apology for the way the dress code had been applied. He acknowledged that 23 non-Muslim students had been inappropriately required to wear jilbabs.

“I apologize for any mistakes of the staff,” he said. “It is obligatory to obey the rules. It is not obligatory for non-Muslims to wear Muslim clothes.”

He added, “I guarantee that Jenni can still go to school as usual.”

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