Students in England could be banned from wearing full-face Muslim veils for security or educational reasons under government guidelines to be published on Tuesday, officials said.
The guidance paper from the Department for Education and Skills (DFES) would leave it up to individual head teachers to decide what pupils should and should not be allowed to wear in class, a DFES spokesman said.
“If they feel any garment imposes on a child’s ability to learn or is a safety or security issue they could be banned,” the spokesman said.
The new school guidelines come after a British girl lost a legal battle a year ago to be allowed to wear full Islamic dress in school. Shabina Begum’s case was likened to a row in France triggered by a ban on Muslim headscarves in state schools.
Muslim veils have been a hot political issue since senior minister Jack Straw said last October they made community relations “more difficult”. British Prime Minister Tony Blair then described the full-face niqab as a “mark of separation”.
I want to try this. I’m going to ban ballcaps and blue t-shirts from my classroom because they inhibit “community relations.”