We posted in this morning’s round-up on the controversy over small girls wearing the hijab in British nurseries and primary schools. The report was based on a survey conducted by The Sunday Times – and the ST has now returned to the subject.
It reports that the Chief Inspector of Schools, Amanda Spielman, has agreed to meet Muslim campaigners who are calling for a ban on the hijab in state primaries. Traditionally, the hijab is not worn until puberty; and opponents claim that the development is an “affront to the historical fight for gender equality in our secular democracy”.
In a letter to the newspaper, a group led by a former Labour parliamentary candidate, Amina Lone, argues that:
“As women, we would legally have to cover up in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Aceh province in Indonesia, but countries such as India and Tunisia are fighting back … Our country has an abysmal record of protecting young Muslim girls, who suffer under the pretext of protecting religious freedoms. By turning a blind eye when our schools are being politicised, government contradicts itself when advocating more inclusion and cohesion.”
“An Ofsted source” told the ST that while schools were entitled to determine their own uniform rules, Ofsted had become increasingly concerned: “We are looking at whether there is evidence that schools are facing external pressure to adapt their policies.”