Religion and schools

Batley, blasphemy and the religious right

After the Batley Grammar School row, which led to protests outside the school, teachers being suspended, and one going into hiding for his own safety, the teachers have been reinstated. On 27 May an independent investigation commissioned by Batley Multi Academy Trust found that teaching staff at Batley Grammar School who had shown one of the Charlie Hebdo images of Mohammed “genuinely believed that using the image had an educational purpose and benefit, and that it was not used with the intention of causing offence. The image was included to initiate a discussion about the meaning of...

Women's Fightback: Students rebel against uniforms

Girls at King David High School, a Jewish school in Childwall, say they want to be able to wear trousers like the boys — as well as questioning policy over a ban on leggings in PE. They have handed in a petition, calling for changes, which has so far attracted more than 300 signatures. The petition, started by pupil Laura Starkey, states: “We want justice for female students in our school and the freedom to express ourselves without being limited to things that boys can do and we cannot.” King David head teacher Michael Sutton has defended the uniform on religious grounds, as if that were...

Stand and be counted

This article by the Algerian socialist-feminist Marieme Helie Lucas, responding to the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist assailant on 16 October, was first published on the Feminist Dissent website. We republish it, with the author's permission, to promote discussion. Assassinations by decapitation or by the sword – which are highly symbolic of all Muslim extreme-right organisations (Al Qaeda, the Taliban, GIA, al-Shabab, Daesh, Boko Haram, etc.) – are not a new phenomenon in France. Several cases have already happened in recent years. It points at the will of the...

Again on the hijab in primary schools

See here for wider debate in Solidarity on the ban of the hijab in schools. I want to respond to Ben Tausz’s contribution to the debate on whether to ban the hijab in primary schools (Solidarity 527). He quotes me as saying “I do not think that you need to have a solution (of how a ban might be enforced) to support a ban”. The problem is, I didn’t say that. I said that I didn’t think you had to have an agreed solution to what the consequence of breaking the ban might be. What, Ben, should the consequence be for those who resist our programme for renationalisation? What should the consequence...

The hijab and the Saudi factor

Sadia Hameed is a spokesperson for the Council of ex-Muslims in Britain, and a director of Gloucestershire Sisters, a women's organisation working in minority communities, particularly around tackling harmful traditional practices. She was interviewed by Sacha Ismail for Solidarity. See here for wider debate in Solidarity on the ban of the hijab in schools. We need to question the idea of multiculturalism. Diversity of culture is a great thing, but harmful ideas and practices need to be challenged and criticised. Multiculturalism should be about taking the wonderful parts of all cultures and...

Against the school hijab ban demand

See here for wider debate in Solidarity on the ban of the hijab in schools. In his most recent letter defending his demand for a hijab ban in schools, David Pendletone says “I … do not think that you need to have a solution [of how a ban might be enforced] to support a ban of the hijab for children in primary schools”. This is absurd and deeply irresponsible, given the counter-productive and dangerous consequences of many (I would argue all) possible scenarios of enforcement. What it reflects is that this demand seems founded more on an insistence that ‘something must be done’, more than on...

Letters

I wish people would stop talking about “the top 1%” or the “1% v the 99%.” Why should they be regarded as being “the top”? They are a completely useless parasitic layer on society. Billionaires have not “earned” or “created” their wealth. It would take someone earning a median wage of £25,000 40,000 years to make £1 billion, assuming they paid no taxes and spent none of their money on essentials such as food, shelter and clothing. According to the OECD in 2012 the top 0.6% of world population (consisting of adults with more than US$1 million in assets) or the 42 million richest people in the...

Letters

Last week, you reported on the Morning Star coming out clearly in support of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. Events have also pushed Socialist Worker to clarify its stance, in fact to show how bad it is. For some time now SW’s basic line has been: “Shout about something else loudly enough to drown all thoughts about Brexit”. SW of 22 October, however, explicitly applauded the victory of the nationalist-minded big union bureaucracies against the left-wing rank and file at Labour conference (Brighton, 22-25 September). It complained that leading Labour MPs’ speeches on 19 October “flew in the face...

Debating a ban on the hijab in schools

Hijab school ban would mis-focus Katy Dollar We are right to oppose the hijab as a social mechanism of female subordination, and we oppose pressure on girls to wear the hijab. Our priority is to help and support secularists and leftists in the mainly-Muslim communities and who fight that pressure. It is true that the concept of female modesty, whether motivated by women as tempters, or as requiring protection, embodies women’s oppression and is inseparable from the segregation and subordination of women. The debate about children rather than teenagers and young people must be had on very...

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