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UK minister backs right to ban hijab in schools

Press Trust of India  |  London 

An Indian-origin school principal, who was forced to withdraw a ban on wearing of by young girls after vitriolic on social media, today received crucial support of a UK who said or intimidation of school staff was completely unacceptable.

Lord Theodore Agnew, for schools systems, faith and counter-extremism in education, also said that schools in the country were completely within their right to make decisions on how to run their institutions in the best interests of their pupils.

Neena Lall, an Indian-origin principal of the St in east London, met with strong opposition, faced on and even likened to German dictator for her decision to impose a ban on wearing of by girls under eight last month.

Later, the decision.

A at the school, Arif Qawi, resigned amid the stiff opposition and had urged the to spell out school uniform policies more clearly.

The also threw his support behind schools in the country that want to impose a ban on wearing of or religious fasting by very young pupils.

"They are completely within their right to make decisions on how to run their schools in the best interests of their pupils in line with the law and in discussion with parents, of course and we back their right to do so," Agnew wrote in 'The Times' in reference to Lall.

"in east has been at the centre of after its ban on young pupils wearing the hijab andfasting during I have seen the vitriolic on after this decision and read of the intimidation of staff, resulting in the resignation of the of governors...I wanted to send out a clear message: or intimidation of school staff is completely unacceptable," he wrote.

The minister responsible for counter-extremism in the said the government would not allow a "culture of fear and intimidation to pass through the school gates" and that any opposition to decisions by a school's governing body should manifest itself in the form of sensible, informed discussion and not

Earlier this month, the UK's independent schoolswatchdog

the in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) had also came out in support of the school's right to set its own uniform policy.

"Schoolleaders must have the right to setschooluniform policies in a way that they see fit, in order to promote cohesion," Amanda Spielman, the of Ofsted, had said.

Under the UKs guidelines, uniform policy is a matter for individual head-teachers and their governing bodies.But Agnew offered the government's support to individual schools that may find themselves in a bind.

"We want to do all we can to help schools on sensitive issues, such as those thrown up by this case, and we will be working closely with school leaders and sector organisations on how we can support them," the minister said.

He also warned schools in the country against "promoting religious ideologies that undermine British values" and said the government was prepared to take action against any form of discrimination in the classroom.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, February 10 2018. 17:55 IST