A petition that was launched to get St Stephen’s Primary school in Newham to reverse its ban on the hijab for girls under 8 has been signed by over 14,300 people.
The petition on the Change.org website argues that the ban sets a precedent for further and harsher religious regulation.
Neena Lall, the headteacher of the school, and Arif Qawi, the Head of Governors, have justified the ban (as well as the school’s discouragement of fasting during Ramadan) on health and safety and integration grounds.
However, it has been revealed that Qawi spoke about being on a “personal crusade” to severely “limit Islamisation” in a November Facebook post.
The petition states: “It’s not yours to regulate, dictate, discuss or limit. Religious expression that does not encroach on your freedom does not require your permission or allowance.
“If we allow them to take this step towards regulating the hijab, the cycle will not end and we will regress towards a society which does not allow diversity, inclusion and individuality.
“The hijab represents a choice and to remove it is the very oppression which actors claim to prevent. We cannot and will not stand for this and for that reason to Neena Lall, we say Leave our Hijab!
“It’s not a request or a plea, it’s demand. So that individuality, personal choice, heritage, culture and expression remain free and unregulated within the education system.
Taking this step towards limiting the hijab is the first step towards the regulation of freedom in the UK and we shouldn’t allow it to happen!”