Muslim outrage over Birmingham college niqab ban

Muslims are outraged over a Birmingham college’s decision to ban the niqab for security reasons.

Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMC) chiefs have decided to ban the wearing of niqabs along with hoodies, hats and caps for security reasons.

All students, staff and visitors to Birmingham Metropolitan College have been told to remove any face coverings so individuals are “easily identifiable at all times”.

Sofia Ahmed from Muslimah Pride said to 5Pillarz: “Muslimah Pride feel as if this ban is a result of the Islamophobia that is sweeping across Europe and has been increasing in Britain. Muslim women are marginalised in public life, education and the workforce.

“Decisions like this set a dangerous precedence. Muslimah Pride have asked the college to remove the ban and reverse this deeply racist and discriminatory decision.”

The controversial niqab ban has sparked fury among Muslim girls, who say they are being discriminated against.

The policy was revealed just days after politicians discussed banning the burqa. Tory MP Philip Hollobone – who refuses to see constituents who will not lift their veils – raised the issue in a Private Member’s Bill, saying it “goes against the basic part of the British way of life”.

Principal and chief executive of BMC, Christine Braddock, said the policy had been in place for some time and had been developed to keep students safe.

She said: “We have a very robust Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Policy at Birmingham Metropolitan College but we are committed to ensuring that students are provided with a safe and welcoming learning environment whilst studying with us.

“To ensure that safeguarding is a priority, we have developed our policy alongside student views to ensure we keep them safe. This needs individuals to be easily identifiable at all times when they are on college premises and this includes the removal of hoodies, hats, caps and veils so that faces are visible. All prospective and progressing students, as well as staff, have been advised of the policy, which will mean everyone allowed on the premises can understand and know each other in a safe environment.”

BMC student, Imaani Ali, 17, expressed that her “freedom has been breached” by the rule. She said: “Me and another friend who wear the veil were only told we wouldn’t be allowed inside the college after we had enrolled. They haven’t provided us with another alternative. We said we would happily show the men at security our faces so they could check them against our IDs, but they won’t let us.

“It’s a breach of my freedom and I feel discriminated against. This is my religion, it is what I believe in. I don’t really want to go to a place that doesn’t accept me but I have no choice now.”

Protest

The Facebook group Muslimah Pride have organised a protest against BMC’s niqab ban on Friday 13th September at 2.30pm. They stated on their page:

“The banning of the face veil at one of the largest colleges in the country is setting a dangerous precedence. Muslim women already face many challenges in society leading to marginalisation and discrimination. We are underrepresented in education and subsequently in public life and the workforce. Decisions like the one taken by the leadership at Matthew Bolton College make things worse for women who already face an uphill battle against endemic discrimination.

“Please join our protest against this Islamophobic and illogical decision to ban the face veil. We need to take a stand against such hysterical and discriminatory decisions. Brothers welcome, as are none muslims who understand the need to preserve the rights of muslim women and freedom of expression for society as a whole”.

The NUS Black Students’ Campaign have launched an online petition against the niqab ban. They stated: “We completely condemn the decision by Birmingham Metropolitan College to ban Muslim students from wearing veils on campus. This ban is a complete infringement on the rights to religious freedom and cultural expression and is a clear violation of a woman’s right to choose.

“Women in Britain are rightly free to wear religious dress. We will be exploring all options to robustly challenge this outrageous decision. We call on Birmingham Metropolitan College to reverse its decision and respect the fundamental rights of its diverse student population to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and cultural expression”.

You can sign the petition on the link provided below:

https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/birmingham-metropolitan-college-reverse-your-decision-to-ban-muslim-students-from-wearing-veils#share

 

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