British Sikh MP defends Muslim girls "right to choose" hijabs in angry letter to government
By: Barfi Culture Team
Published: 8th January 2018

The British MP Preet Gill has written a letter to the Department for Education slamming Ofsted - the regulator for schools - over concerns it is singling out Muslim girls for wearing a hijab.

The head of Ofsted sparked controversy when she said school inspectors in England may ask primary school girls, if they were wearing a hijab or similar headscarf, to ensure they were not being forced.

"While respecting parents’ choice to bring up their children according to their cultural norms, creating an environment where primary school children are expected to wear the hijab could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls," said Amanda Spielman in November 2017.

But children should not be "subjected to unnecessary questioning by Ofsted inspectors," said Labour's Preet Gill (pictured in centre) in a letter to the Secretary of State for Education.

She is the only Sikh woman MP in Parliament and was elected last year to represent the people of Birmingham Edgbaston.

"I firmly believe in a person's right to choose their expression of faith. The freedom to practise faith - or not - is one of the cornerstones of the free and diverse democratic society in which we live," she wrote.

"Successive Governments have emphasised the importance of freedom of religion and belief, and it is vital that all communities are able to practice their religion free from persecution. In particular, I believe that children should not be subjected to unnecessary questioning by Ofsted inspectors," she added.

"I urge you to ensure that my constituents' concerns be adequately addressed and to create the necessary changes to ensure that Muslim girls do not attend school feeling the need to justify their wearing of a Hijab."

The Muslim Council of Britain earlier said the comments by the Ofsted chief sent a message that British girls who chose to wear a hijab are "second class citizens".

Article published on 8th January 2018 in the Politics section

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