St Clare's School in Handsworth, Birmingham
Teachers at St Clare's School in Handsworth, Birmingham, asked the little girl to remove her hijab in line with a strict uniform policy which bans scarves and headwear.
According to the Birmingham Mail, the girl’s father called on Birmingham City Council’s Labour cabinet member for equalities Waseem Zaffar to intervene.
Cllr Zaffar said he met with the school’s head teacher Victoria Rivett and told her the ban contravened the equalities act.
Councillor Waseem Zaffar's Facebook post
I’m insisting this matter is addressed asap with a change of policy
Councillor Waseem Zaffar
He said: “I’m insisting this matter is addressed asap with a change of policy.”
But his cabinet colleague Cllr Majid Mahmood said as a faith school St Clare’s is “maybe within its rights to insist upon a particular dress code,” just as a Muslim faith school “may require girls to wear headscarves”.
Dr Mashuq Ally, a former head of equalities for Birmingham City Council, agreed saying there is no religious requirement for girls of infant school age to wear the hijab.
He also said a faith school is allowed to set its own uniform policy and exempt from discrimination legislation.
Members of Birmingham City Council disagree on the school's decision
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He said: “I also would have thought a Muslim parent would have thought very carefully about sending their child to a Roman Catholic school and considered the uniform policy.
“This should have all been discussed between school and parent, not been dragged into the public and political arena."
Campaigner Gina Khan attacked Coun Zaffar on twitter, accusing him of backing male parents who enforce the hijab on little girls as a means of control.
The hijab row has erupted in Birmingham
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She said: “Hijab isn’t compulsory for a child in Islam, but patriarchal biraadari power used to control Muslim school girls.”
Councillor Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children, families and schools, said: “Each school’s governing body is responsible for the creation and implementation of its own uniform policy.
"However, the local authority is supporting the school to ensure its policy is appropriate, in line with legal requirements, and we are engaging with all schools to remind them of their responsibilities when it comes to setting school uniform policies.”