The Mayor of London said the burka, or full Islamic veil which leaves only a mesh for the eyes cannot be described as a school uniform. He was speaking after it emerged a number of secondary schools have forced children as young as 11 to wear the full covering when outside school.
The Madani Girls’ School in Tower Hamlets, east London, stipulates that girls must wear a full burkha and a black coat when outside school. Girls at the Jamea Al Kauthar school in Lancaster are required to cover their faces when outside the school and wear a jilbab, or long flowing black gown that covers the head and body but leaves the face exposed, when inside. The Ayesha Siddiqa Girls School in Southall, West London, requires girls to wear the jilbab when travelling to lessons. All three are independent fee-paying schools. There had been plans to turn Madani girls’ school into a state-funded Muslim school.
Parliament said this week it backed the rights of schools to set and enforce their own uniform policies but Mr Johnson said: “I don’t think it can be classed as any kind of uniform. I’m totally against any kind of compulsion in this matter. If a school is forcing children to wear the veil, that in my view is completely wrong, adding: “That is against my principles and it’s against the principles of liberty that London should stand for.”