School Reverses Hijab Ban for Small Children After ‘Islamophobia’ Accusations

Veiled Muslim women and children hold up signs reading 'Jihad' and calling for Shari'ah law in Mali as they protest in response to French military action in Mali outside the French embassy in central London on January 12, 2013.

A well-regarded primary school has been forced to drop a ban on small children fasting and wearing Islamic headscarves after accusations of “Islamophobia”.

St. Stephen’s Primary School in Newham, a heavily Muslim-populated area of East London, made headlines when it announced the ban, which was welcomed by campaigners who say child veiling sexualises youngsters and promotes extremism.

The school also argued that it could be dangerous for young people to fast, and could possibly hurt their concentration and learning.

However, Muslim parents and left-wing campaigners reacted furiously, claiming that they had not been properly consulted on the new uniform and safety measures.

Extremist’ groups such as Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) objected, and a group of local councillors published an open letter on the Islamist-sympathising website 5Pillars.

The school’s chair of governors, Arif Qawi, this Friday announced he was stepping down following the backlash, telling colleagues in an email reported by the Guardian:

“I wish the school continued success and am truly sorry that my actions have caused any harm to the reputation of the fantastic school.”

The school’s website posted a note on Friday described as a uniform policy update, reading:

“Having spoken to our school community we now have a deeper understanding of the matter and have decided to reverse our position with immediate effect.”

The note was later amended to read: “The school has taken the decision to make the changes to this policy with immediate effect and this follows on from conversations with our school community.

“We will work with our school community to continue to review this policy going forward in the best interests of our children.”

Amina Lone, an activist who has lobbied the government to ban hijabs in schools for very young girls, slammed the school’s capitulation on Twitter.

Miqdaad Versi, Assistant Secretary General of the Islamist-linked Muslim Council of Britain, said his organisation welcomed Mr. Qawi’s resignation because of his allegedly “appalling” statements about Islamic veiling.

“This decision on religious symbols did not appear to target adherents of other faiths and appears to have been made without consulting the parents or community,” Mr. Versi told the Guardian.

“Yet serious questions remain unanswered as to the school leadership’s attitude towards Muslims, which are potentially discriminatory.

“It is deeply disappointing that a primary school with such a reputation has acted in this way. We hope that future decisions are made carefully and with full consultation with local communities.”

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