It has been revealed that a Council equalities boss who intervened in a debate about a Catholic school banning a Muslim girl from wearing a hijab is related to the child.
St Clare’s School in Handsworth, Birmingham had asked the child’s parents to respect their strict uniform policy, which includes no headwear or scarves.
The stance of the school sparked a row among community leaders after the young girl’s father called on council officials to intervene.
Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham Council’s Labour cabinet member for equalities, revealed last week he had met with the head teacher and told her the ban was against the Equalities Act.
Despite his involvement the councillor failed to reveal publicly that he is related to the girl and her family.
Birmingham City Council says Zaffar did inform it of the link and had also told the school.
Councillor Zaffar issued a statement via the council press office which read:
But Jon Hunt, Leader of the Lib Dems, said:
The row began on Facebook when a relative of the girl criticised the headscarf ban, saying she had been given “detention from school cuz she was wearing a scarf. It’s a religious matter and I would like to request to our councillors and MPs to take notice on this serious issue.”
The relative had copied in the message to an MP and councillors, including Waseem Zaffar. Mr Zaffar later posted on Facebook:
The relationship between Mr Zaffar and the relatives of the girl was not made public on the posts.
Women’s rights campaigner Gina Khan had previously attacked Coun Zaffar’s comments, stating: "Hijab isn’t compulsory for a child in Islam, but patriarchal biraadari power used to contol Muslim school girls.”
Birmingham City Council said it had been aware of the family link. Brigid Jones, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Schools, said:
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