A prestigious London school has banned a female student from wearing a traditional Muslim niqab.
The unnamed 16-year-old student has been attending Camden School for Girls for five years, and sat for her exams this past summer while wearing the niqab—a form of dress where only the eyes are visible.
The school is now refusing to allow the student to take her A-level exams unless she stops wearing the veil.
A petition has been signed by over 1,000 people in support of the girl, titled “Stop the Islamophobia,” reports The Independent. The petition is on change.org, and was started by an anonymous protester.
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The petition reads:
"What someone chooses to wear does not affect anyone else. What we feel most strongly about is that there has been no discussion, no real attempt to find a middle ground, especially with the strong voices of students on this. Why should a personal choice of deciding to wear religious dress affect their education?"
Former students of the school have been allowed to wear the niqab, or similar.
“I went to Camden school for girls and many girls wore veils and were allowed to do so,” said former student and petition signer Farhana Khanom. “This school had a reputation. And now discriminating [against] people that made their own choice to wear what they feel is utterly disgusting.”
The sister of the student described the school’s decision as “very upsetting” for the family.
“My sister just wants to wear the niqab for her own reasons and attend a school,” the sister said. “I don’t feel like her education should be compromised or the way she dresses should affect the way anyone looks at her.”
The response from the school was obtained by Yahoo News UK. It reads, in part:
"We have an appearance policy and students at the school may wear what they wish subject to any requirement in the interests of teaching and learning, health and safety. Inappropriate dress which offends public decency or which does not allow teacher-student interactions will be challenged."
Camden School for Girls was named one of the top 100 best performing schools in the country by school minister David Laws in 2013. It has been rated as outstanding in every Ofsted inspection it has had.
The Department of Education allows schools to set their own uniform policy and enforce bans on certain clothing on the grounds of learning, security, or safety.