Muslims outraged by possible hijab ban in UK

Muslims outraged by possible hijab ban in UK
Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:39:43

The Muslim community in the UK has been ‘disgusted’ by the idea of a possible ban on Muslim women and young grils from wearing veils in public places.

British Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne says the government should consider the ban.

“We should be very cautious about imposing religious conformity on a society which has always valued freedom of expression,” the Liberal Democrat Minister told The Telegraph newspaper.

The chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a group that works with young Muslims in the UK, said he was "disgusted" by Browne's comments.

"This is another example of the double standards that are applied to Muslims in our country by some politicians," Mohammed Shafiq said.

"Whatever one's religion they should be free to practice it according to their own choices and any attempt by the government to ban Muslim women will be strongly resisted by the Muslim community."

The debate comes after Birmingham Metropolitan College changed its rules last week in an unprecedented move.

It previously banned Muslim students from wearing niqabs - a veil that leaves only a slot for the eyes. An online petition against the ban was signed by 9,000 in 48 hours and forced the institution to drop the ban, which had been in place for eight years.

An 17-year-old girl who started the protest told the Birmingham Mail the veil ban was embarrassing.

“It upsets me that we are being discriminated against. I don’t think my niqab prevents me from studying or communicating with anyone - I’ve never had any problems in the city before,” the teenager, who didn't want to be named, said.

Liberal Democratic leader Nick Clegg said he was also "uneasy" about the Birmingham ban.

“I'm really quite uneasy about anyone being told what they have to wear and I certainly would need to understand why,” Clegg stated on his weekly LBC 97.3 radio phone-in show.

The guidelines from the Department for Education state that under the Equality Act 2010, schools must not discriminate against, harass or victimize pupils because of their: sex; race; disability; religion or belief.

Back in 2007, a High Court judge rejected a pupil's appeal to be allowed to wear the niqab in class. Currently in the UK, schools and colleges are given carte-blanche to set their own uniform policies. Headteachers in the UK can order students to remove veils for security reasons, however.

David Cameron’s spokesman said last week that the British Prime Minister would be in favor of banning Muslim veils in his children’s schools. His nine-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son attend a Church of England junior school in West London.

"That would apply to every school, every single one, including the ones that his children may attend. What’s important is to back the right of schools to set their own uniform policy and that’s what the government will keep doing," David Cameron’s spokesman replied.

The Conservative leader may be pushed to reconsider the rules on veils in schools.

In another much-debated case, a judge on Monday allowed a 22-year-old London-based Muslim woman to stand trial in full face veil, but ruled she must remove it to give evidence.

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, earlier said it is against her religious beliefs to show her face in public, and her lawyer insisted that the refusal of permission to wear a veil would breach the young woman's human rights.

Apart from the UK, a push for anti-Muslim laws has been recently made in France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim population. Last week leaders of France's 6 million Muslims were outraged by the new ‘secularism charter’ designed to toughen rules banning religion from schools. Many Muslims fear that stricter laws at schools and universities would only deepen the gap between religions, and step up acts of racism and hatred against them.

In 2004, France passed a law banning schoolchildren from wearing conspicuous religious symbols, such as Muslim headscarves or Sikh turbans, but the law excluded universities. Now the High Council of Integration (HCI) wants to see the same rules applied to universities. In August, the research institute founded by the French government recommended prohibiting students from wearing religious symbols, such as Christian crucifixes, Jewish kippah skullcaps and Muslim headscarves.


string(158) "[{"id":"1502532","sort":"3092900","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2013/08/06/alalam_635113951314693960_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"France plans to extend hijab ban"} ]"