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College u-turn on Muslim veil ban

A college has backtracked on controversial plans to ban Muslim students from wearing the veil, despite the apparent backing of the prime minister.

Birmingham Metropolitan College hit the headlines this week after it told students and staff they must remove all face coverings, including religious veils, for security reasons.

One Muslim girl, a 17-year-old prospective student, she felt discriminated against by the “disgusting” policy and would enrol at another college.

But this morning the college released a statement saying it would modify the policy, fearing the media attention over the issue was detracting from its “core mission” of providing high quality learning.

It said individuals will now be allowed to wear specific items of personal clothing to reflect their cultural values.

“The college will still need to be able to confirm an individual’s identity in order to maintain safeguarding and security," a statement said.

“We have listened to the views of our students and we are confident that this modification to our policies will meet the needs of all of our learners and stakeholders. We remain committed to ensuring that students are provided with a safe and welcoming environment and the best education and training opportunities available.”

The decision comes the day after the college gained the apparent backing of Prime Minister David Cameron. Mr Cameron’s spokesman said the Prime Minister believed educational institutions should be able to “set and enforce their own school uniform policies”.

However, speaking on his LBC 97.3 radio phone-in show, deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was “uneasy” with the idea.

Mr Clegg said: “I can totally understand, of course, if you're passing through security checks
at airports, say, of course for those reasons you need to make sure that the security staff can do their job.

“I can totally understand in the classroom, this is more about full veils that you want to be able to make contact, certainly eye contact and face contact with your pupils.

“But as a general principle, other than those rather exceptional circumstances, I'm really quite uneasy about anyone being told what they have to wear and I certainly would need to understand why.”

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