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UK Prime Minister would support a ban on Muslim veils at his children's school
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that Mr Cameron supports the right of schools to set their own uniform policies following a row over a Birmingham college’s decision to ban veils.
Birmingham Metropolitan College was accused of discriminating against Muslims when they ordered all students, staff and visitors to remove any face coverings so individuals are “easily identifiable at all times”.
However, the college on Thursday backtracked after a petition attracted 8,000 signatures in 48 hours and their policy brought criticism from politicians.
Hundreds of students had also been preparing to hold a protest over the ban. Mr Cameron had backed the college’s orginal decision to ban veils.
Asked on Friday whether the Prime Minister was concerned that the college had been forced to reverse its decision following local pressure, his spokesman said: “These are decisions that are around uniforms [and] are rightly for schools to take.”
When asked if Mr Cameron would approve of a ban on veils at one of the schools attended by his children, the spokesman said: "I’ve explained the Prime Minister’s view around supporting schools’ right to set their uniform policies and that would apply to every school - every single one - including the ones that his children may attend."
Meanwhile, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, called for a ban on full-face veils in the classroom.
He said that the Government should strengthen current guidance on veils, warning that schools should not be left to make decisions on religious clothing themselves.
Bishop Nazir-Ali said that female pupils should not be allowed to wear the niqab, a veil that leaves only a slot for the eyes.
“I would say that the niqab and the full-face covering should not be [allowed],” he said.
He said tha people should be "permitted to wear it for their own private lives” but that the veils can cause problems with security as well as “professional interaction in education”.
Current Government guidance allows individual schools to ban religious items such veils or the traditional Sikh kirpan dagger.
Bishop Nazir-Ali said that it is “unfair” that schools are currently expected to “make up the rules as they go along”.
“If there is any doubt [or] ambiguity in the guidance, that ought to be removed. It’s unfair to expect teachers on the ground to make up rules as they go along,” he said.
“It would be better to have some clear guidance from the Department for Education on what is and what is not acceptable.”
The Telegraph understands that the Education department has no plans to change the guidance on school uniforms.
Birmingham Metropolitan College said that it was reversing the ban because it was “concerned that recent media attention is detracting from our core mission of providing high quality learning”.
Protesters on Friday welcomed the decision. Sabiha Mahmood, 27, from the organisation Muslim Pride said: “We are very happy that the ban has been overturned but there is still the wider issue of why it was ever allowed to happen in the first place.
“We believe it is a fundamental right for Muslim women to be allowed to wear the face veil and to ban it was a violation of our human rights.”