A government advice on school dress, including a permission for schools to ban the veil if it is thought to pose a security threat has been leaked in advance to the press – in particular to the Sun newspaper. Politicians are all too aware that this will stir up a debate fuelling the bias already implanted in the public consciousness about the Muslim woman's dress. Alan Johnson seems to also feel the need to flex his muscles by getting tough with Muslim women – like his colleague Jack Straw did last year.
This further highlights the hypocrisy of this government's need to interfere in matters which have traditionally been left for schools to take independent judgements about – without influence from MP's – but in consultation with families and communities. Some schools which traditionally promoted inclusion and cultural sensitivity will feel encouraged to do the opposite; exacerbating a notion that Muslim girls who dress in a particular manner in education cannot possibly progress academically. It would be hard to imagine an MP intervening on the grounds of health and safety if the issue was about young girls and body piercing.
This step is consistent with the current government stance on religion in public life. The right of people to hold religious beliefs and practices is being eroded in favour of enforcing the abolition of religion in common places. It follows the law that Catholic adoption agencies cannot exercise their conscience when looking for suitable adoptive parents. We wait to see which will be the next issue upon which the state seeks to impose its views on people, seeking to convert the behaviour of others towards a common 'secular faith' – something that we know an Islamic State is not allowed to do upon its religious minorities.
Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain