The Middle East Eye website is reporting that Neena Lall, the East London primary school headteacher who tried to ban the hijab for under eights, has accused the Sunday Times newspaper of “twisting” her words to stir up controversy around the issue.
In a meeting of staff and parents Lall denounced The Sunday Times article by Iram Ramzan and Sian Griffiths and said that she was misled into believing the paper was interested in reporting on St Stephen’s school’s strong academic record.
Lall has since reversed the hijab ban after an outcry from Muslim parents.
“The article which came out in the Sunday Times was completely misleading. Some of the things that happened in that article were not things that have happened at this school and it just inflamed the situation,” Lall told parents at a meeting on 22 January in which she also described the decision to ban the hijab as a “huge error in judgment”.
Deputy head Adam Bennett also delivered a damning assessment of the Sunday Times’s story, suggesting the paper had set out to create a “big debate” around the issue of the hijab.
“They took a lot of footage, they chopped it up, they used it how they wanted, they had their agenda and they put stuff forward to create this big debate and unfortunately our school was left in the middle of this debate,” he said.
Lall also said in the recording that Arif Qawi, the chairman of governors at St Stephen’s who had championed the ban, was forced to resign over an email he had sent in which he described a local imam as “an unholy bastard” and mistakenly copied in the imam himself.
The Sunday Times told MEE that it stood by its story.