John Lewis’s new line, hijabs to wear at school: Department store signs contract with schools in London and Liverpool to offer conservative Islamic clothing
By: Sean Poulter
John Lewis is offering the hijab in its school uniform department for the first time.
The headdress is to be sold in the company’s stores in London and Liverpool after it signed contracts with two schools – one which was set up to educate Muslim girls and a second that welcomes pupils from all religious communities.
The hijab covers the head and chest and is worn by Muslim women after the onset of puberty as a sign of modesty in the presence of men who are outside their immediate family.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear genocide charges for targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.
Kompong Cham, Cambodia – On a dark October night in 1975, Sos Min crept along the roads of Svay Khleang village clutching a drum. Min’s task would almost certainly end in his death, but weeks of planning and a growing sense of despair had strengthened his resolve.
For months, the Khmer Rouge had placed increasing pressure on this historic Cham Muslim village. The regime’s cadres shut down mosques, ordered an end to praying and forced villagers to eat pork. Women were made to discard their hijabs and cut their hair, imams and religious teachers were abducted in the dead of night – their screams ringing out across the village.
Nuns, too, were once suspected of being agents of a foreign power
Does the above image offend you? Do you believe that there is no place in our country for people who cover themselves so thoroughly? Do you fret, perhaps, that the women in the picture have been brainwashed into accepting an oppressive belief-system?
Let’s try a little experiment. When we discuss the hijab, let’s think of it as a traditional coif and habit. Are we really saying that in this country, where we have traditionally lifted the freedom of the individual above the power of the collective, the state should tell us what we’re allowed to wear?
Freedom includes the right of free association. Societies and institutions should be allowed to set any membership obligations they please. Schools should be entirely free to demand uniforms, employers to impose dress codes. If a shopping centre wants to ban hoodies or niqabs – or crosses or yarmulkes, come to that, if it’s mad enough to want to turn customers away – that is its right. But British ministers do not tell their people how to dress. This is something, I’m pleased to say, that differentiates us from Iran or Saudi Arabia or France.