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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 October 2006, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
City schools 'should ban veils'
Aishah Azmi
Aishah Azmi refused to take off her veil in lessons
Muslim girls could be asked not to wear veils in the classroom under new plans.

Bradford City Council is drawing up guidelines stating that pupils and staff should not wear veils in lessons.

It said veils could cause problems with communication, identifying pupils and health and safety. However, the final decision would lie with the school.

Last week teaching assistant Aishah Azmi lost a case for discrimination and harassment after being suspended for refusing to remove her veil in lessons.

But an employment tribunal decided the 23-year-old, who worked at a school run by Bradford's neighbouring authority Kirklees Council, had been victimised.

Bradford City Council leader Kris Hopkins said: "Veils in schools, for staff and pupils, has never been an issue in Bradford.

"We feel the debate over veils is distracting from the real issues in education, that is raising educational attainment across the district for all children."

'Obey rules'

Dr Abdul Bary Mailk, president of the Bradford and Leeds Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, said wearing the full face veil, or niqab, was not an obligation under Islam.

He said: "If there are rules at work which say you must not wear a veil at work then I think it's the duty of every Muslim that they should obey those rules. If they don't like it they should not join that organisation."

He said Muslim girls needed to take off their veils in certain lessons, such as those held in laboratories, for health and safety reasons and they were regularly asked to do so in Muslim countries.

But Dr Malik said he thought the veil debate had blown out of proportion, as women who wore the niqab formed less than half a percent of the population.

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