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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005, 16:19 GMT
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The Headmaster and the Headscarves was broadcast in the UK on Tuesday, 29 March, 2005 at 2100 BST on BBC Two.

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The comments published on this page reflect the balance of views we received.


Thank you for the personal level of the programme
Vicki Hill, Shropshire

An absolutely brilliant programme. The law should be adopted here too. Why should children be allowed to hide their face behind a veil in school?
Paul, Gillingham

I am French myself, and the programme was excellent in the sense that it showed with great accuracy the French education system.

I used to believe that keeping the veil out of school was the right thing to do, but I have changed my mind since I've been leaving in the UK. It doesn't bother me at all if people wear any religious symbols. It is a part of British society.
Melodie, London

A fascinating, well-balanced documentary. I think the law is unfair to those veiled students, who have to give up either their education or their religious clothing, and I thought the attitude of the headmaster and some teachers was unacceptable.
Ernest, Bournemouth

A brilliant programme that gave the viewer a true insight into the effects of this new law in France.
Daisy, London

Thank you for the personal level of the programme. I have studied this law in great depth as my A Level coursework topic, and so found the programme very interesting.

I was originally against the law, as I found it a breach of human rights and that children should learn from an early age to accept others who are different to themselves. However, after studying it in detail, I am now in favour of it, as it is extremely equal.
Vicki Hill, Shropshire

I thought this documentary was very well-presented and informative
Dr Lewis Turner, Lancaster

This programme provided an excellent insight into the effects of implimentation of this new law in French schools.
Sheraz, Manchester

France has it absolutely correct. Religious clothing has no place in a modern society. I find the public display of religion somewhat disturbing, threatening even. Whatever the argument, schools are for learning and religious displays have no place there.
Laurie North, London

As a secular state, France has the right to impose a law banning the wearing of all religious symbols. Headscarves can be worn outside of school and in social time.
Jane, Bradford

I thoroughly enjoyed the programme. It's all very well living in a secular society but citizens must begin to understand that there are people in the world who have faith. I hope this opens up a debate about how we in the Western world can begin to at least acknowledge this fact, rather then implement laws that prohibit worship.
Catherine Emenike, London

This programme made my blood boil! What happened to human rights ?
Paul Ware, Manchester

Congratulations on this excellent programme. From the arguments raised by the headmaster and teachers about the veil, I think they're confused, mixing the headcarf ban with other issues that should be discussed elsewhere.
Osman Elmi, Bristol

I am deeply saddened by the growing intolerance that this law seems to represent
Paulo Drinot, Leeds

A fascinating programme which really gave an insight to the issues involved. I was really struck by the dignity and passion of the young women featured. A sensitive piece of film-making.
Naela Akharware, London

I thought this documentary was very well-presented and informative. The young women who wanted to wear the veil were very articulate and showed courage.

I was astounded when some teachers said how nice it was for schoolgirls to wear sexy clothes! I would argue that young women "looking sexy" at school was far more inappropriate in a learning environment than a veil.
Dr Lewis Turner, Lancaster

Congratulations on an excellent programme. As someone who studied in the French education system, I am deeply saddened by the growing intolerance that this law seems to represent. It is to be hoped that programmes such as this one will contribute to a much needed debate.
Paulo Drinot, Leeds

At school the emphasis should be on learning, not on religion
Vanessa, Leeds

A very interesting, well-balanced and insightful programme. I felt that the girls wearing headscarves were being unfairly treated.
Arfan, Bath

I'm a British student and am currently studying this new French law at college. For me the law is totally unacceptable. In French schools there is no school uniform, so surely all the students should be able to wear what they want!?
Sarah, UK

Fantastic programme. I think England should follow the French lead.
Austin, Littlehampton

I think it is brilliant what France are doing. At school the emphasis should be on learning, not on religion.
Vanessa, Leeds

I found the attitude of the headmaster and the teachers who supported him, derogatory and prejudiced - particularly the daily inspection.
Sara Nicolson, Glasgow

I was almost in tears watching those girls in France
Sarah, Dagenham

I thought this programme was very touching and gave an insight into the lives of those who have to deal with the headscarf ban every day.
Azza Ezzat, London

I feel really sorry for these girls in France. What is happening isn't right and won't solve any problems.
Ziena, Nottingham

Thanks for a very informative programme!
Thu, London

I converted to Islam nine months ago, and one of the first decisions I made was to wear a headscarf. I was almost in tears watching those girls in France. If I were in their situation, I don't think I would even be able to go for the "compromise" of wearing a bandana.

Some of the comments made by the teachers were astounding. How can they think that teenage girls wearing short skirts and low-cut tops is something to encourage?!
Sarah Phillips, Dagenham

A veiled woman is not threatening, nor does it harm anyone
Karima, Libya

If you live in a country you live by the laws of the land. I applaud France for their stand.
M McArthur, London

I was moved by the girls' plight. It seems that just dressing modestly is not allowed. There was no distinction between religious and cultural items of dress.
Amy, Fife

The law covers ALL religious symbols, so why are these Muslim girls complaining? The law is for everyone equally, regardless of religion, race, sex, or age. If exceptions are made on this, where will it end?
Rachel, West Yorkshire

The French state provide free education up to high school, irrespective of your religion, community, or sex, as long as you go along with its secular ways. It's a small price to pay if you ask me.
Noel, London

The very idea of telling thinking women what they can or cannot wear fills me with anger
Mervyn Goode, Hove

I myself am a Muslim and am not veiled, but I support the decision of any woman or girl who wishes to wear it. This is one's personal and spiritual belief and should be respected. A veiled woman is not threatening, nor does it harm anyone.

And I don't think it should be compared to the wearing of a crucifix because Christianity does not require that it should be worn. For devout Muslims, the veil is an obligation.
Karima, Libya

The law banning religious symbols in schools will not help to bring people from different backgrounds together. The principle of secularism in schools is being misunderstood and basic civil rights are being violated.

Instead of targeting religious minorities in any given society, it makes more sense to introduce religious studies in schools and educate people about different religions and cultures. Multiculturalism is unavoidable in our day and age, especially in large cities.
Shikunova Viktoria, Russia

I am seriously upset by this programme. The very idea of telling thinking women what they can or cannot wear fills me with anger.
Mervyn Goode, Hove

People have to understand that for those girls who wear the headscarf, it is not just a piece of clothing that represents their religion. It is their dignity.
Rizwan, Glasgow

I believe the French law has more to do with attacking those who are different from the norm. It's a shame that some find it difficult to accept those who choose to be religious. I'm not religious myself but I recognise that other people have the right to choose their own beliefs.
Dominic, Brighton

Let the girls wear the veils if they want to, it's their choice. No one should make them wear them, or tell them not to.
Elizabeth Demers, US

I applaud the French government for preventing the wearing of headscarves
Carol Morgan, Canada

Once you have migrated to a different country, you must respect the traditions and laws of that country.
Natasha, US

I do not think the French secular system is secular at all. All Christian holidays are observed at these schools.
Mohammed Sheikh, France

I don't see why Muslim women should make a fuss about this in France. The law is the law.
Nathalie Kay, Quebec, Canada

I can see no reason why there should be an allowance made for one group and not for another. The rule is for everybody.
Paul Mounter, Southampton

Isn't the banning of headscarves an assault on the very idea of religious freedoms and the equality of expression a secular society aims to promote? It must surely be healthier for children to grow up and learn in a religiously diverse environment, than to force children to conform into bland automatons.
M Hemamda, Oxford

I applaud the French government for preventing the wearing of headscarves.
Carol Morgan, Canada

The more fuss is made about these things, the longer it takes for the majority to accept and allow newcomers to integrate into the larger society. I fear that the effect of the French legislation is going to be the exact reverse of what was intended and hoped for.

In New Zealand, our secular state schools do not offer religious education, but in the interests of universal inclusion, all pupils are allowed to wear whatever symbolic garments they want.
Christopher Sawtell, New Zealand



SEE ALSO
The Headmaster and the Headscarves
29 Mar 05 |  This World
Muslim girls unveil their fears
28 Mar 05 |  This World


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