The Devoted Teacher Who Quit a Muslim School after Being Told THIS Outfit Was Indecent

Article excerpt

Byline: by Sue Reid

JANE is a good school teacher and proud of it. She lives in a handsome, detached house surrounded by neatly mowed lawns on the outskirts of Derby, with her husband and three pet cats.

For nearly 20 years, she has taught history, geography and religious studies in schools throughout the East Midlands city. In all that time, there has never been one word of complaint against her from head teachers, parents or pupils.

'I love teaching and always have done. I am proud that I bring the subjects alive for the pupils and make them enjoy learning,' she says today, sitting in a black leather chair in her smart sitting room.

'I feel I do a good job and always wear a business suit with trousers or a sensible skirt in school. It is a sign of respect for my profession and sets a good example to the children.'

Yet, one day in October last year, she returned home from the classroom in tears to her husband, a successful businessman. To her horror, she had become embroiled in a furious row at her school over what she wore to work.

The Islamic Al-Madinah school in Derby, one of the newest of the Government-sponsored free schools, had asked her to dress modestly, covering her hair and ensuring she did not show any flesh apart from her face, hands and feet.

She abided by the request -- or so she thought.

For earlier that October day, wearing a grey suit with a skirt well below the knees, thick knitted black stockings, calf-length boots and her long brown hair completely covered, she stepped into a lift at the school with a male teacher.

To her shame, he looked her up and down and told her that she had failed to observe 'common decency'. The two inches of leg hidden in the 100 denier stockings which showed between her boots and the hem of her dress were 'abhorrent', he warned. Her discreet outfit was, he deemed, 'figure hugging' and immodest.

'That encounter in the lift with this Muslim male teacher made me feel like a slut,' Jane says today. 'It was the final straw.

'My husband took a photo of me in my school outfit after I returned home that afternoon. It shows that my head, arms and legs were completely covered up in line with the rulings of Islam.

'I walked away from Al-Madinah and I have not been back. It seemed to me that the school was more concerned about how I dressed than losing a good teacher who was doing well for the pupils there.

'In class, I always wore a black cap from Next or a scarf as a head covering as a sign of respect for the school and Islam.

'But, if I had known that it was compulsory for non-Muslim women staff [to cover up] before I started the job, I would never have accepted the post.' What happened to Jane, whose name I have changed at her request as she still teaches in the East Midlands, is, of course, shocking in the modern Western world which espouses equality between the sexes whatever their age or profession.

Yet 50-year-old Jane's chilling experience has shone light into the dark corners of the Islamic faith schools, which have sprung up in towns and cities throughout the country as the Muslim population grows in Britain.

She has spoken out bravely over one of the most sensitive issues in Britain today. There are 17 Islamic state schools in Britain. Five of these institutions -- including Al-Madinah -- have been set up as free schools, which means they are financed by the Government, but can decide what they teach, the discipline code and rules for staff and pupils.

Another six Islamic free schools have been approved by the Government and will open next year.

Other Islamic schools, of which there are more than 100, are privately-run, but often attract State and council grants or tax-breaks because they enjoy charitable status.

AND the strict religious rules now appearing in a growing number of these Muslim schools -- particularly when it comes to the treatment of girl pupils and female staff -- has led to accusations that they have been hijacked by Islamic hardliners and are promoting a 'sexual apartheid' while the Government's education inspectors, Ofsted, turn a blind eye out of a misguided fear of being accused of racism. …