John Lewis, one of Britain’s favourite department stores, is to sell hijabs as school uniforms for girls following a deal with schools in London and Liverpool.
The move will raise concerns that the department store is profiteering off a misogynistic garb that is often forced on young Muslim girls.
The Mail reports:
The headdress is to be sold in the company’s stores in London and Liverpool after it signed contracts with two schools – one which was set up to educate Muslim girls and a second that welcomes pupils from all religious communities.
The hijab covers the head and chest and is worn by Muslim women after the onset of puberty as a sign of modesty in the presence of men who are outside their immediate family.
It is different from the niqab, which is a full face veil and has proved divisive in schools and public life, for example if wearers are giving evidence in court.
There has been controversy over whether it is right for girls attending state schools to wear religious dress rather than the standard uniform.
But the fact that a mainstream retailer is starting to stock the hijab alongside blazers and blouses is likely to be welcomed as a breakthrough by Muslim parents who have so far had to rely on specialist shops.
John Lewis has won the contract to supply uniforms to the Islamia Girls’ School in north-west London, which was established in 1983 by Yusuf Islam – known as the singer Cat Stevens until his conversion to Islam in 1977.