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Likewise the American author Yasmine Mohammed, who says she was beaten as a child for not memorising the Koran and was forced to wear a niqab: “The absurdity of #feminists in the West embracing modesty culture while their disempowered sisters in the #Muslim world risk arrest, imprisonment, and worse to free themselves from the #hijab would be comical if it wasn’t so tragic.”

The way that Mend wreaths its hijab campaign in the language of inalienable civil and religious rights isn’t a joke either — but it may fool many ordinary Muslims.

Arguing that a ban on the hijab at primary school would be a breach of the Equality Act 2010, Mend says: “One must ask whether Jewish boys wearing a kippah, or Sikh boys wearing a topknot or a turban, could be considered sexualised too, and whether they will be asked similar questions?” Must one? There is no equivalence. How could a kippah, a topknot or a turban be considered remotely sexualising for boys? None are intended to guard male modesty.

Mend flatly asserts that the right to wear religious clothes “is protected by the Human Rights Act 1998, which guarantees freedom of thought, belief and religion.” A school can, however, stop a pupil from wearing an article of religious clothing if it considers this necessary to the health and safety of the child — as the Chief Inspector of Schools thinks it may be and which in the case of St Stephen’s primary school, the head teacher adjudged it was.

Mend also cites the “UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities” because signatories are required to ensure “minorities can fully exercise fully and effectively all their human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination and in full equality before the law’.”

What Mend doesn’t seem to have grasped is that none of these rights are unqualified, as the Department of Education’s guidance on school uniforms for governors, teachers and local authorities makes clear: “Pupils have the right to manifest a religion or belief but not necessarily at all times, places or in a particular manner.”

There are now some 511 schools across 43 local authority areas with 50 per cent or more pupils from Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic backgrounds. The Chief Inspector is concerned that some of these schools are in areas beset by community tensions. The DfE guidance says that “where a school has good reason for restricting an individual’s freedoms, for example, the promotion of cohesion and good order in the school, or genuine health and safety or security considerations, the restriction of an individual’s rights to manifest their religion or belief may be justified”.

In other words, the school must balance the rights of individual pupils against the best interests of the wider community — a consideration that was absent from the campaign directed by Mend and some of its “strategic partners” at the head teacher of Britain’s best performing primary school.
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amcdonald
May 17th, 2018
7:05 PM
Iftikhar Ahmad`s comment is a perfect example of unreasoning.

Anon
May 13th, 2018
7:05 PM
Why does the government not support the more liberal British Muslims in this noble cause?

Iftikhar Ahmad
May 5th, 2018
7:05 PM
Hijab Why is it that we always have these conversations about girls? I never read articles about what boys should or should not wear. I have never read articles about what boys should be allowed to do, only girls. Maybe that is more the issue. Why? It would only be a good idea if you planned to make the families feel so unwelcome that they end up removing their children to be educated at home. But don't then be surprised at the number of home educated Muslim children rising. Maybe that's the overall agenda to make Muslims as outcasts? Muslim girls who wear the hijab to primary school will be asked why they wear it by inspectors. The reasons given will then be recorded in school reports, amid concerns girls are being forced to wear the headscarf by their parents. Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, announced the move on Sunday. This is none of Ofsted's business. In fact it is discrimination. Ofsted should be instructed to back off. Can you please focus on the primary children/girls who are dressed like grown women with short skirts and such which would be deemed as sexualisation of girls. And is this about sexualisition Ms Spielamn or Fundamentalism? I think your a little confused and need to make up your mind because I would say its about Islamophobia. Imagine being questioned about why you dress the way your parents tell you at 8 years of age!? What do you say? “Sorry, I’ll tell them they are wrong”? Looks like Ofsted are now so busy with combating Islam that they will have no time to deal with education? The problem is, before they start the quizzing, they're making public exactly what the girls should get prepared to reply (by their family) to be allowed to keep the hijab. With all the time to rehearse. Any child asked by an inspector why she’s covering her hair should reply.. 'its a free country I can wear what I effing want''!! We do not need inspectors chasing Muslims just because we hate them. Looks like Ofsted are now so busy with combating Islam that they will have no time to deal with education? What is the role of the Government can any of the hijab haters answer This? Or do we need another PREVENT policy to target certain group of people? I bet all the readers who have kids have forced their kids to go to sleep, brush their teeth, wake them out of bed, eat dinner etc, wear a helmet whilst riding bike and so on...So what is wrong with telling your kid to cover the head to if one wants to. There is nothing wrong with this as long as its achieved peacefully and through education. Of course they are forced or at least required to wear hijabs by parents because it is the parents who bring up children according to their tradition, religion or both. Freedom of religion is imperial . One can choose what to believe in an practise it , it' not the government' job to dictate what you should eat, how you should dress ,when you should pray ..it only has the power to coerce it' civilians but it should just focusing on providing services and infrastructure and education and so on. So they need to send inspectors instead of assuming that it's the parents brainwashing the kids. Interesting. Maybe they expect to find some 7 years old girls who will give them a detailed report of all the faiths they thoroughly researched before choosing Islam because it's the one they believe provides the answers to all their existential and philosophical questions. Parents are free to teach their children what they want as long as it' not harming them physically or mentally. Its called education not force. I guess every parent has the right to educate their child into doing something which they believe is good (as long as its not a crime etc). It's the parents that they should be questioning, not the children. No good asking the girls. If they are made to wear it, they will be made to say they aren’t, since that’s what the Inspectors want to hear. Everybody knows who the Inspectors spoke to. How nice of them. Huge swathes of children in Birmingham leave school without 5 GCSE but that doesn't seem to concern Ofsted too much. In fact they label schools Outstanding when they cannot even get half their pupils to this benchmark! We, as parents want to raise our girls. It is our responsibility, no one else's , even Ofsted. Ofsted should be looking at the reasons why children &young people are suffering an epidemic of mental illness, clue: it’s not because they lack resilience. Instead they are joining in with the rights obsession over what women and girl wear and bashing Muslims

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