Birmingham Metropolitan College has provoked anger among students and anti-discrimination campaigners by placing a ban on all facial coverings on its premises, including the niqab and similar face veils. The college management has deemed such items of clothing a risk, stating that individuals should be ‘easily identifiable at all times’ so that all students can study in a ‘safe and welcoming learning environment’. Other clothing to be removed on the college grounds includes hoodies, hats and caps.
The policy was revealed just days after politicians discussed a similar ban covering all public places in Parliament. Kettering MP Philip Hollobone – who refuses to see constituents who will not lift their veils – raised the issue in a Private Member’s Bill, saying it ‘goes against the basic part of the British way of life’.
The story has been covered in the Metro, the Independent and the Birmingham Mail, among others. The JVS show on BBC Three Counties Radio also hosted debate on the topic on the 11th September between Hollobone and the journalist Assed Baig, which can be found here (starts approximately 1:07:00).
Update: Birmingham Metropolitan College has modified its stance to allow individuals to wear “specific items of personal clothing to reflect their cultural values”, as the BBC reports here. The Principal of the College has also resigned, though it has not been confirmed whether this is related.