Nearly half of Islamic schools in England require girls to wear hijabs, says report


Nearly half of Islamic schools in England require girls to wear hijabs, says report

Education chiefs have been urged to allow Muslim girls “free choice” after it emerged that pupils at dozens of Islamic schools are being forced to wear hijabs.

Research by the National Secular Society (NSS) found that out of 142 Islamic schools which accept girls, 41 per cent have uniform codes that suggest a form of the religious headscarf is compulsory. Of the 142 schools, 11 receive state funding and 27 are primary schools.

NSS, which campaigns for the separation of church and state, has called on Education Secretary Justine Greening to ensure Muslim girls do not have modesty codes imposed on them. Stephen Evans, NSS campaigns director, said: “If individual liberty means anything it all, surely it means allowing young people to develop their own beliefs and decide for themselves how they choose to manifest them. “Schools should be empowering girls to make their own decisions once they are ready to do so. “Pupils from Muslim backgrounds should be supported to have free choices, not have so called ‘modesty’ codes imposed on them. “No pupil should be forced to adopt religious practices or obliged to wear the hijab whilst at school.”

The group’s research says that some schools explicitly state a hijab is compulsory. The study says the policy at Feversham College in Bradford states: “It is very important that the uniform is loose fitting and modest and that the hijab is fitted closely to the head.” And its research shows girls at Al-Ihsaan Community College in Leicester are told they must wear either a “jilbaab or niqab.”

The jilbaab is a long, loose fitting garment which covers the body except the hands, face and feet.  At 18 of the 142 schools included in the study, 18 clearly state that wearing a hijab is optional. Thirteen of these are state funded.

In a letter to the Education Secretary, NSS campaigners say the Government should encourage schools to implement uniforms which do not include a mandatory hijab. The group says that several feminists from Muslim backgrounds have co-signed the letter.

Source: The Daily Express

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