British schools where girls must wear the Islamic veil
Hundreds of girls are bring forced by British schools to wear the Islamic veil in a move which has been heavily criticised by mainstream Muslims.
By David Barrett
10/02/2010 UK (Telegraph.co.uk)-Islamic schools have introduced uniform policies which force girls to wear the burka or a full headscarf and veil known as the niqab.
Moderate followers of Islam said yesterday that enforcement of the veil was a "dangerous precedent" and that children attending such schools were being "brainwashed".
The Sunday Telegraph has established that three UK institutions have introduced a compulsory veil policy when girls are walking to or from school. They are:
Madani Girls' School in east London;
Jamea Al Kauthar in Lancaster;
Jameah Girls' Academy in Leicester.
All three are independent, fee-paying, single-sex schools for girls aged 11 to 18. Critics warned that the spectacle of burka-clad pupils entering and leaving the schools at the start and end of the day could damage relations between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
Ed Husain, co-director of Quilliam, the counter-extremist think-tank, said: "It is absurd that schools are enforcing this outdated ritual – one that which sends out a damaging message that Muslims do not want to fully partake in British society.
"Although it is not the government's job to dictate how its citizens dress, it should nonetheless ensure that such schools are not bankrolled or subsidised by the British taxpayer."
He added: "The enforcing of the niqab on young girls is not a mainstream Islamic practice – either in Britain or in most Muslim-majority countries.
"It is a desert practice which belongs to another century and another world."
Dr Taj Hargey, an imam and chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, said: "This is very disturbing and sets a dangerous precedent.
"The use of taxpayers' money for such institutions should be absolutely opposed. The wearing of the burka or niqab is a tribal custom and these garments are not even mentioned in the Koran."
Philip Hollobone, the Tory MP who has attempted to bring in a Private Members' Bill to ban wearing of the burka in public, also condemned the schools' uniform policies.
"How on earth are these young ladies going to grow up as part of a fully integrated society if they are made to regard themselves as objects at such a young age?"
Conservative councillors have accused Labour-controlled Tower Hamlets council of subsidising Madani Girls' School by selling the school its current premises for £320,000 below market value.
School uniform rules listed on the website have been deleted but an earlier version, seen by this newspaper, stated: "The present uniform conforms to the Islamic Code of dressing. Outside the school, this comprises of the black Burka and Niqab."
The admission application form warns girls will be "appropriately punished" for failing to wear the correct uniform, and its website adds: "If parents are approached by the Education Department regarding their child's education, they should not disclose any information without discussing it with the committee."
Explaining the school's ethos, Madani's website says: "If we oppose the lifestyle of the west then it does not seem sensible that the teachers and the system, which represents that lifestyle, should educate our children."