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UK having a VEIL of a time! Debate escalates : Support Mr.Jack Straw and send e-mail to express it

Reader comment on item: No Islamic Law in Minnesota, for Now

Submitted by British Hindu (India), Oct 17, 2006 at 10:18

A Muslim teaching assistant's refusal to remove her veil is threatening to spark a full-blown row over religious relations as exchanges become increasingly bitter.

The Government's race minister demanded 24-year-old Aishah Azmi be sacked, accusing her of "denying the right of children to a full education".

Phil Woolas said Ms Azmi's stand meant she could not "do her job" at Headfield Church of England junior school in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and insisted barring men from working with her would amount to "sexual discrimination".

But the Muslim Council of Britain quickly condemned Mr Woolas for his "outrageous" and "reckless" foray into a "matter that should be decided by the school - and if necessary by the courts".

Meanwhile, Shadow Home Secretary David Davis launched a stinging attack on Muslim leaders for risking "voluntary apartheid" in Britain, and expecting special protection from criticism.

In an article for the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Davis warned of "closed societies" being created in the UK, and said religious divides threatened to "corrode" fundamental values such as freedom of speech.

Labour's Lord Ahmed, the first Muslim peer, delivered a furious broadside against politicians and the media for "demonising" the community. He told BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme: "Let's be honest, there are people in our community who call themselves Muslims who have been threatening our national security. It is very unfortunate.

"But the problem is that the politicians and some people in the media have used this for demonisation of entire communities, which has become a very fashionable thing today."

Education Secretary Alan Johnson is expected further to fuel the religious debate this week by putting forward plans forcing new faith schools to allocate a quarter of places to non-believers.

The Church of England has already announced it will set aside a quarter of places at its new schools, but a bid to make Catholic, Jewish and Muslim institutions do the same is likely to meet resistance.
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