Daily Mail columnist defends tolerance and equality

Frances Childs“Several years ago I started work at a prestigious sixth form college on the outskirts of London…. I was utterly flummoxed when I entered the classroom on my first day to be confronted by three girls in the back row, sitting side by side wearing the niqab, the full-face veil which leaves only a tiny slit for the eyes. Recovering myself, introductions were made. The voices behind the veils told me their names but – because there were no faces to put them to – I promptly forgot them.

“In the year that I taught the class, the girls never sat next to anyone else. They never entered into class discussion and I admit that I never asked them their opinions about the books that we read. Simply, they embarrassed me…. So it was with delight that I read this week that schools will be able to ban pupils from wearing the full-face veils….

“The issue of the veil and Muslim girls has been sorted out once and for all in France. Unhampered by any concerns about possibly offending this or that group, the French government passed a law banning the wearing of any religious insignia at all…. Perhaps it’s time we passed a similar law in this country rather than simply letting individual schools decide the dress code. Otherwise, religious fundamentalists will be back, pushing ever harder against the barriers of tolerance, common sense and equality that we have fought so hard to preserve in this country.”

Frances Childs in the Daily Mail, 22 March 2007