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Ofsted’s hijab proposals criticised by over 1,000 academics and campaigners

Ofsted’s hijab proposals criticised by over 1,000 academics and campaigners

Categories: Latest News

Wednesday November 29 2017

Buzzfeed News reports that over 1,000 teachers, academics and campaigners have signed an open letter describing Ofsted’s decision to question Muslim primary school girls who wear the hijab or headscarves as “discriminatory and institutionally racist”.

The letter calls for Ofsted to immediately retract the proposals announced by Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman in the Sunday Times for schools’ inspectors to question Muslim girls wearing hijabs at school, with the responses to be included in schools’ inspection reports.

The lecturers, teachers and faith leaders highlighted the discriminatory aspect of singling out Muslim youngsters for questioning, stating: “We find the decision to single out Muslim children for questioning unacceptable, and insist that no school children be targeted for action on the basis of their race, religion or background.”

The open letter, which has been signed by over 1,100 signatories, was organised by academics Nadine El-Enany, a senior lecturer in law at Birkbeck Law School, Waqas Tufail, a senior lecturer in Criminology at Leeds Becket University and Shereen Fernandez, a PhD candidate at Queen Mary University.

The letter stated that the schools’ inspectorate had provided no evidence for the claim that “some children wearing the hijab creates an environment where ‘school children are expected to wear the hijab’”, or Ms Spielman’s claims that girls wearing hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation”.

Further highlighted in the letter is the negative sentiment created around the choice of Muslim women and girls to choose the way they dress. The letter stated that Ofsted’s decision sends the message to Muslim women that “the way they choose to dress and the decision they make in raising their children are subject to a level of scrutiny different to that applied to non-Muslim parents”.

Dr El-Enany told Buzzfeed, “Muslim women and children have a lot to say and teach others, if only people and the state would listen to them rather than constantly silencing them, speaking for them, and deciding what is best for them.”

The Muslim Council of Britain earlier published 100 responses from Muslim women to Ofsted regarding the proposal to quiz young schoolgirls who wear the headscarf. Wafaa Almoathin, a teacher in London said, “Hijab is about self respect, freedom and dignity. Most of the time, young girls choose to wear it as a form of imitating their role models, who they admire and aspire to be like. That does not mean that the Hijab is being imposed on them, and it certainly does not mean that they are being fed ideas which sexualise them in any way”.

MEND CEO Shazad Amin also signed the open letter with MEND’s action alert prompting numerous complaints to Ofsted by concerned parents. MEND has written to the Education Secretary Justine Greening and is currently in the process of canvassing MPs to sign a letter highlighting the concern around Ofsted’s proposals.

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