CAIRO – A British Muslim mother has been denied attendance at parents evening twice for wearing a face-veil (niqab), an incident that adds to restrictions on religious freedoms of Muslims.
“My son has been at the college for the past two years and I have been in there twice wearing the veil without any problems,” Maroon Rafique, 40, told The Sun on Sunday, June 24.
Donning face veil over the past seven years, the Muslim mother of two had to suffer repeated troubles in the streets.
She faced the worst situation when she was told by her sons’ school reception staff that all visitors to the campus had to keep their faces visible for safety reasons.
“This time though one of the women at the reception saw me and said ‘I’m sorry but you have to remove your veil to go to this meeting because it’s college policy’” Rafique, of Whalley Range, said.
“I offered to sit at the back or at the front, anywhere where I wouldn’t be seen, if they thought I was going to offend anyone,” she added.
At this moment, the Muslim mother found no other option but to telephone her husband to ask him to come to Manchester College and speak with tutors about the progress of her son Awais, 18.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
As for the face veil, the majority of Muslim scholars believe that a woman is not obliged to cover her face or hands.
Scholars, however, believe that it is up to women to decide whether to take on the face veil.
Barring their mother, Rafique’s son Awais and 12-year-old brother Ibrahim said they felt embarrassed in their school.
“It was really embarrassing when they told her she couldn’t come in,” Awais said.
“We’ve never, ever been told about any rule about what parents can wear.”
A Manchester College spokeswoman defended the school rules, noting that an investigation into the incident had been launched.
She added that Rafique’s concerns were being taken “very seriously”.
“At all times we need to be able to identify all individuals easily in order to maintain safety and security and therefore we ask that faces are clearly visible whilst outdoors,” she said.
“Our dress code is reviewed through our quality improvement group and we will take this situation into account at the next review.”
For Rafique, she could not accept the reasons behind offending her at her children school.
“I do get abuse every now and again in the street which I just have to deal with,” she said
“I’m born in this country and British. Why should what I wear offend anyone?”
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority, estimated at nearly 2.5 million.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
Related Links:Niqab Costs UK Muslim Juror Her Job
UK Muslim Group Ignites Hijab Debate
UK Rules Out French-style Burqa Ban
Niqab Part of UK Way of Life: Think-tank
UK College Bans Veil