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Controversial British ‘compulsory hijab school’ shuts down

Published: Updated:

A controversial Islamic school in the city of Derby, in eastern England, was shut down on Wednesday, only a few weeks after complaints were reported that Muslim and non-Muslim female staff members were being forced to wear headscarves.

Al-Madinah school, which made media headlines recently, has reportedly deemed it compulsory that women working at the school must adhere to Islamic dress codes, reported The Guardian.

The school was shutdown abruptly on Wednesday after a visit by Ofsted’s team, the British official body for inspecting schools.

Undetailed “health and safety” reasons were cited by Ofsted as the reason behind closure.

“We can confirm that Ofsted is currently undertaking a two-day inspection of the Al-Madinah school in Derby,” it said, in a statement carried by The Guardian.

“As a result of findings that our inspectors have shared with the principal during the first day of the inspection, we understand that he has written to parents informing them that the school will be closed to children.

“We have also informed the Department for Education and the local authority of our initial findings. As the inspection is in progress, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

The move comes less than two weeks after a teacher quit her job at the school, claiming that in addition to the headscarf rule, all girls were being made to sit at the back of classrooms, separate from male students, the newspaper added.

The al-Madinah school has about 200 pupils and opened last year part of the British government’s free school program.

The school’s online prospectus states that: “our school will be underpinned by the principles of the Islamic faith, which we believe to be universal principles that all should aspire to whether they are Muslims, of other faiths or none.”

It also stresses on the importance of female staff adhering to the Islamic dress codes, even if they are non-Muslim.

“All staff members will also express decency and modesty in their clothing and appearance. Female members of staff – irrespective of their religious beliefs – will cover their heads and bodies appropriately in light of the teachings of Islam,” the prospectus notes.