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Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2006, 09:01 GMT 10:01 UK
MP tells veil woman 'let it go'
Aishah Azmi
Aishah Azmi said she would appeal against the tribunal ruling
A Muslim teaching assistant suspended for wearing a full-face veil has been urged by her MP to give up her fight.

Aishah Azmi lost her employment tribunal case for discrimination and harassment, but was awarded damages for victimisation by Kirklees Council.

Her legal representative said they will take the case to "a higher court".

But Dewsbury Labour MP Shahid Malik told the BBC: "I would appeal to Mrs Azmi now just to let this thing go. There is no real support for it."

It comes as Conservative leader David Cameron warned politicians to consider the effects before "piling" into the row on women wearing full-face veils.

Mr Cameron said he was concerned British Muslims were feeling "slightly targeted" on the issue.

'Untested'

Mrs Azmi was suspended from Headfield Church of England Junior School, in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

I think there is a danger of politicians piling in to have their tenpence-worth
David Cameron

Nick Whittingham, of Kirklees Law Centre which is representing Mrs Azmi, said: "This is a new area of law in terms of religious belief discrimination.

"It's untested so we need to be taking that to a higher court."

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme they would look particularly at whether the case fell into an area of direct or indirect discrimination.

"What we are trying to say is that she can do her job perfectly even if she is wearing a veil," he said.

But Mr Malik told BBC Look North the tribunal ruling was "absolutely spot on".

Shahid Malik
Shahid Malik said the issue had "little support"

"I have got Muslim parents in my constituency who have said that they wouldn't send their children to a school where the teachers wore veils while they were teaching.

"I just think there is very little support for this, she is very isolated and it would be healthy all round if she just let it go and just accept the tribunal result," he told BBC Radio Leeds.

'Separation'

Her case fuelled the debate on full-face veils, originally sparked when Commons leader Jack Straw said he asked Muslim women to remove veils when they visited his constituency advice surgeries.

Prime minister Tony Blair also added his voice to the debate saying the full-veil was a "mark of separation".

But David Cameron told ITV1's Frost Tonight: "I think there is a danger of politicians piling in to have their tenpence-worth and really they have to ask themselves whether this is having an overall good effect or not."

Mr Cameron said that in cases like Mrs Azmi's, it should be up to the school and local authority to make their own judgement.

The chair of social and family affairs at the Muslim Council of Britain, Reefat Drabu, said the veil was not obligatory.

She said Mrs Azmi's stance was "exacerbating the misunderstanding" of Islam, and making things harder for Muslim communities in Britain.

"She does have a responsibility of what's happening to the rest of the Muslims who are living in the country."

HAVE YOUR SAY
Unusual dress will impede social interaction and could prejudice job opportunities
Tom, Exeter

She said that since the issue had been in the media there "have been more attacks on Muslim women, there have been more mosques that have been vandalised, and...a continuous hammering of Muslims throughout the country."

After the ruling, Mrs Azmi criticised ministers who had intervened in the case and said it made her "fearful of the consequences for Muslim women in this country who want to work".




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