Principal Called ‘Hitler’ on Social Media Over Hijab Ban in UK School
Neena Lall, the head teacher of St Stephen's School in London, wanted to ban hijab for girls below the age of 8 years.
A school principal of Indian origin in the United Kingdom has backtracked from her decision to impose a ban on hijab for girls below the age of eight. Neena Lall has been facing widespread criticism, and has been branded as “Hitler” on the social media.
A video of Lall, the head teacher of St Stephen’s School in Newham, east London, circulating on the social media, shows her as German dictator Adolf Hitler and the school’s former chairman of governors as Russian dictator Stalin, while the members of the management team have been shown as Hitler’s followers. This was the clip of Hitler’s famous rant from the 2004 war film, Downfall, and the subtitles were edited to talk about the hijab ban at the school.
The subtitles in the clip that showed Hitler’s character was speaking flashed: “This is my school! This is MY primary school! But they want their scarves. Why don’t they all just go and join ISIS! You were supposed to make them all British. In tops hats, sipping tea, twirling their moustaches.”
One of his followers, who interrupts him, says: “Sir, they’re just kids. They are British.”
Hitler replies: ‘”British like me. Like me you imbecile!”
The follower then ventures: “Mein Fuhrer, you are Punjabi.”
This clip has been retweeted several times. At a meeting of the parents and school management, attended by Labour Party MP Stephen Timms on Jan. 22, Lall was asked to apologize and reverse the school governing body’s approved ban on hijab for very young girls.
“The school’s uniform policy is based on the health, safety and welfare of our children. The school has taken the decision to make changes to this policy with immediate effect and this follows on from conversations with our school community. We will work with our school community to continue to review this policy going forward in the best interests of our children,” the school said in a statement.
Arif Qawi, former chair in the governing body of the school who resigned last week after the backlash, said that the hijab was traditionally worn only at and after puberty as a sign of modesty in front of men. Qawi was concerned at seeing girls as young as five in the playground wearing the headscarf and not mingling with other classmates. Lall told The Sunday Times about her obligation as a head to teach British values.
“A couple of years ago I asked the children to put their hands up if they thought they were British. Very few put their hand up. They thought they were Indian, they thought they were Pakistani, but very few thought they were British,” she said.
She added: “Although their culture and their religion is really important, they’ve got to realize they’re also fortunate to be here . . . and they have to look at what our values are as a British society.”
The school, which is in the heart of an area with people of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi backgrounds, had urged the UK government to issue clear guidelines on the issue of hijab wearing and religious fasting related to very young children to prevent a backlash from parents.