Muslim students complain after being banned from wearing burkas…. after they were branded a security risk
Muslim students have complained to education chiefs after they were BANNED from wearing burkas – because they are a SECURITY risk.
Birmingham Metropolitan College have barred religious veils and headwear in a controversial crackdown on safety.
But the move has angered Islamic groups and students who attend the college who say they should be allowed to wear what they like.
They claim the ban violates their human rights and that Muslims are being discriminated against.
However, college bosses claim the move is for security reasons and that the measures make sure all staff, students and visitors are “easily identifiable at all times”.
And students who defy the ban were warned they could face being kicked off their courses.
News of the policy – which applies to the college’s 11 campus’ across the city – was only broken to one prospective Muslim student at the start of the new term last week.
The angry 17-year-old girl, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s disgusting.
“It is a personal choice and I find it absolutely shocking that this has been brought in at a college in Birmingham city centre when the city is so multicultural and so many of the students are Muslim.
“It upsets me that we are being discriminated against.
“I don’t think my niqab prevents me from studying or communicating with anyone – I’ve never had any problems in the city before.”
The teenager was so upset at the policy that she says she decided to look for another college place in the city.
Another angry student at the college, Imaani Ali, 17, said her “freedom has been breached” by the rule.
The student, who is studying applied sciences at the college, added: “Me and another friend who wears the veil were only told we wouldn’t be allowed inside the college after we had enrolled.
“They haven’t provided us with another alternative. We said we would happily show the men at security our faces so they could check them against our IDs, but they won’t let us.
“It’s a breach of my freedom and I feel discriminated against. This is my religion, it is what I believe in.
“I don’t really want to go to a place that doesn’t accept me but I have no choice now.”
Elsewhere, other students have welcomed the ban and say it actually makes them feel safer while they study at the college.
Ross Taylor, 19, said: “Britain has a good history of respecting religious customs but sometimes you have to abide by the rules of the country you are in – and this if for their own safety.”
His friend Tim Townsend, 17, said: “We can’t wear baseball caps or hoodies and we respect that.
“Why can’t they do the same?”
Chante Young, 17, who is studying business, added: “You don’t know who is underneath it.
“You can’t see any of their face – only their eyes.”
The college has around 9,000 students aged between 16 and 19, as well as 35,000 adult learners and more than 250 international students.
Its website boasts that international students receive “supportive personal attention” and it was shortlisted for an AOC Beacon award in 2011 for International Learner Support.
Principal and chief executive Dame Christine Braddock DBE said the policy had been in place for some time and had been developed to keep students safe.
She said: “We have a very robust Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Policy at Birmingham Metropolitan College but we are committed to ensuring that students are provided with a safe and welcoming learning environment whilst studying with us.
“To ensure that safeguarding is a priority, we have developed our policy alongside student views to ensure we keep them safe.
“This needs individuals to be easily identifiable at all times when they are on college premises and this includes the removal of hoodies, hats, caps and veils so that faces are visible.
“All prospective and progressing students, as well as staff, have been advised of the policy, which will mean everyone allowed on the premises can understand and know each other in a safe environment.”
The policy was revealed just days after politicians discussed banning the burka in Parliament.
Kettering MP Philip Hollobone – who refuses to see constituents who will not lift their veils – raised the issue in a Private Member’s Bill, saying it “goes against the basic part of the British way of life”.