The independent London newspaper

Schools which ban hijab cause stress, confusion and division

13 April, 2018

• LAST week was a milestone one for Islington Stand up to Racism – a week that concluded months of campaigning against Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman’s discriminatory moves to get primary-aged Muslim girls banned from wearing the hijab in school.

At the beginning of the week we turned ugly attempts by anonymous racists to designate Tuesday, April 3, as national “Punish a Muslim Day” into a unifying Respect a Muslim Day when more than 100 members of the community – including Muslim and other faith leaders, councillors, trade unionists and worried parents – assembled on the steps of Islington town hall to show there is no place for Islamophobic or any other kind of hate crime in Islington.

Of course, the fight is not yet over but opposition to the Ofsted hijab ban is growing. Only last week the biggest teaching trade union in the country, the NEU, voted unanimously to oppose and campaign against it.

Banning the hijab will cause lasting tension in the British Muslim and wider community. Singling out young Muslim girls because of the clothes they choose to wear will make them more vulnerable to verbal and physical abuse in school playgrounds.

Discriminatory clothing regulations and bans have no place in a free and democratic country. For most children their parents are their first role models. I have always dressed like my mother. Why shouldn’t my three lovely daughters do the same if they want to?

I have a message for Amanda Spielman: “Your job is to provide educational leadership to British schools. Stick to it and stop causing stress, confusion and division among young girls over how they dress.”

Labour, Holloway ward


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