An all-girls private school in New Zealand has been criticised for banning Muslim students from wearing the hijab.
Diocesan School for Girls in Auckland said the hijab was not allowed under their uniform dress code policy.
Commenting on the backlash, the school confirmed that girls could wear the hijab only for the nationwide “Scarves in Solidarity” event which took place on Friday 22 March, in the wake of the terrorist attacks at two mosques in Christchurch.
Principal Heather McRae said in a statement: “Any girl or person who wants to show their respect for Muslim families affected in Christchurch by wearing a hijab to school on this day is most welcome to do so.”
She explained that their uniform dress code is strict with girls prohibited from wearing nail polish and jewellery, blazers worn outside the school grounds and long hair must be tied back.
Ms McRea added: “Diocesan is a choice for an outstanding education by many parents.
“As a private girls’ school, we celebrate diversity and inclusion.
“Our uniform policy is developed to help create a sense of oneness and family and is worn with pride by our students.
“All parents sign up to the Uniform policies when they join the school.”
However, the $19,000 (£9,880) -a-year school could be in breach of human rights rules, which states that discrimination on the grounds of religious belief is prohibited under both the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and the Human Rights Act.
In a statement to the New Zealand Herald a school spokeswoman said: “The hijab has never been banned at Diocesan but that it is simply not part of the long standing school uniform code.
“There has never been a formal request from a family to have changes made to include it.”