UK: Senior education official to support headscarf ban

- In speech to Church of England meeting, Amanda Spielman set to claim that religion is being used to 'pervert' education

By Muhammad Mussa

LONDON (AA) -A top British education official is expected Thursday to speak in support of a school leader who imposed a ban on headscarves, or the hijab, according to local media reports.

In a speech today, Amanda Spielman, chief inspector for the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED), is expected to publicly support Neena Lall, the head teacher of a predominantly Muslim state school who imposed the ban last month, setting off an uproar from parents and community leaders in east London.

Speaking at a Church of England conference, Spielman is expected to say that school leaders must have the right to set school uniform policies as they see fit, in order to "promote cohesion,” and also to warn of the dangers people pose in using religion to "actively pervert” education.

"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,” she will claim.

Pre-rebutting Spielman's remarks, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: "As Ms. Spielman continues to issue a disproportionate number of public statements about Muslims and apparent links to extremism, we hope she will consult before issuing further unjustifiable policies.

"A lack of appropriate engagement will undoubtedly strengthen the negative perception among many Muslim parents about Ofsted's interventions.”

The predominantly Muslim state school's ban on young Muslim girls wearing the hijab was overturned earlier this month after the resignation of the chair of governors.

Last November, Spielman came under fire after saying that OFSTED officials would question young girls in primary school who wear headscarves. More than 1,000 academics, teachers and faith leaders blasted OFSTED's decision as a "knee-jerk, discriminatory and institutionally racist response.”

(AA)

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