Schoolgirls wearing a hijab is a path to extremism? Now that’s a leap

St Stephen’s primary school in Newham, east London hit the headlines last month, after headteacher Neena Lall banned the wearing of hijabs for girls under the age of eight. There was a backlash; 19,000 people signed a petition protesting against the decision and the school governors overturned the ban.

Then Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, made an unusual intervention, publicly supporting Lall. Speaking at a Church of England schools conference on Thursday, she said that headteachers should have the right to set rules on uniform. This was a fair comment – but from there on in, her comments deviated wildly from talking about the hijab for children.

“Ofsted inspectors are increasingly brought into contact with those who want to actively pervert the purpose of education,” Spielman said. “Under the pretext of religious belief, they use education institutions, legal and illegal, to narrow young people’s horizons, to isolate and segregate, and in the worst cases to indoctrinate impressionable minds with extremist ideology.” [32 comments. Comments closed early by Gaurdian]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 826 votes] No, schoolgirls wearing a hijab is not a path to extremism, but it is most certainly a path to inequality.

In a country that is currently commemorating the centenary of the 1918 suffrage act and where equality for women is still not a given, I find it very sad to see girls and women covering their heads and limbs because a misogynist born 1500 years ago told them to do so.

Sexualizing young girls by making them wear a hijab should not be allowed and if parents insist on doing so, they should be fined or prosecuted.

[2ND 664] Girls in primary school should be free to run around with the wind in their hair not forced to wear restrictive clothing.

[3RD 522] Back in the 1960s, when I was teaching in “the most culturally diverse area of the United Kingdom” the new immigrants wanted to adopt the dress and culture of their new home.

Not a bad rule of thumb for all migrants, no matter where they are from and where they move to.

[4TH 492] “There was a backlash; 19,000 people signed a petition protesting against the decision and the school governors.”

I notice that Samira – like the Guardian – has said nothing about the offensive and disturbing nature of the abuse that Neena Lall received from members of the Muslim community. It was not simply a case of 19,000 coolly signing a petition.

[5TH 492 ] This article fails to mention the worrying findings of two in-depth reports into the Trojan Horse affair, which found that while the original letter was probably a hoax, the concerns it raised were demonstrably true in many respects.

You only need to read the Kershaw and Clarke reports. It’s all there.

There is a new, aggressive, hardline religiosity at work among the Muslim population that began in the 1980s and took even settled Muslims by surprise. It galvanised Muslim youth and led to the jubilant fatwah against Rushdie. Behind it are unreconstructed Salafist and Islamist groups with links to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

These groups were also behind the aggressive and vicious campaign against the St Stephens headteacher and chair of the board of governors.

Muslims tell me this.

We need to help them push back.

[6TH 453] Girls under 8 years old should not be veiled in UK schools.

It doesn’t say anywhere in the Koran that they should be.

Good decision by the head teacher.

[7TH 427] Children should not be exposed to religion in Schools at all, and that should be ALL matters of religious/quasi religious attire. If parents wish to raise their child in a particular religion, then that should be confined to home, and to non-school time.

Many of the big religions also have an extremely unhealthy concentration on sex, especially in restricting females to virginity (the Virgin Mary), and “demure” clothing. It is bizarre, when we are celebrating the extension of voting to some women 100 years ago, that we promote their sunservience to men and male chauvinism in the same breath!

[8TH 400] Time to re-read Peter Clarke’s report into Trojan Horse. It is not about “an attempt to get more local people involved in the schools”. It shows an organised attempt by a small group of people to introduce religious hatred and inferior treatment for girls into state schools, and the persistent bullying and intimidation of any head teacher who tried to stand up to this.

To paraphrase Samira Shackle, we need to keep an eye on where “responsiveness to the local community” ends and bigotry begins

And if I read one more comment to the effect that “the C of E is just as bad” I will howl.

[9TH 382] I often think that the UK is galloping backwards rather than marching onwards and upwards.

112 years ago (!!!!!) the House of Commons passed a motion which would have banned ALL religious education in elementary schools (i.e. the schools that most children attended from start to finish of their schooling). It was quashed by the Lords. [Guardian Cif] Read more

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