UK govt backs schools in banning veils

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaking with women attending an English language class. He announced on Monday that Muslim women who fail to learn good English could face deportation from Britain.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaking with women attending an English language class. He announced on Monday that Muslim women who fail to learn good English could face deportation from Britain.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Britain has launched a new website which aims to educate Muslim teenagers against groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as the government backed the right of schools to ban girls from wearing veils.

The Educate Against Hate site will warn parents and teachers to watch out for signs of radicalisation among youngsters and keep track of what they are looking at online.

It says the symptoms include "wanting to shut down debate or pursue the path of segregation" as well as spending too much time online.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan yesterday launched the initiative at a school in east London, several of whose students went to join ISIS last year, some becoming brides of the militants.

Ahead of the launch, Prime Minister David Cameron's government was drawn into a fresh debate about whether Muslim girls should be allowed to wear veils at school.

Ms Morgan told BBC radio that "it is very much up to the schools" to decide their own policy on the veil.

But she added: "There are certain things, particularly in relation to teachers who are teaching young children, particularly learning to read and to speak, where actually seeing the teacher's mouth is very, very important".

Mr Michael Wilshaw, the head of schools watchdog Ofsted, has backed a ban on veils in schools.

And Mr Cameron said he supported the right of schools to forbid students from wearing the veil as he announced on Monday that Muslim women who fail to learn good English could face deportation from Britain.

"When you are coming into contact with an institution or you're in court, or if you need to be able to see someone's face at the border, then I will always back the authority and institution," he said.

Some 800 Britons have travelled to the war-torn country since 2012, with half of them still thought to be there. A further 600 have been stopped from travelling.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2016, with the headline 'UK govt backs schools in banning veils'. Print Edition | Subscribe