A Muslim campaigner for women's rights has said young girls should not be made to wear head scarves, claiming that forcing them to do so is as bad as making them have spray tans or take pole dancing lessons.
Shaista Gohir from the Muslim Women's Network made the comments as she defended a Birmingham Catholic school which banned a four-year-old pupil from wearing the hijab.
She added that St Clare’s School in Handsworth was within its rights to set its own uniform policy – and criticism of it had been unfair.
Ms Gohir argues that the hijab is meant to discourage sexual advances - and so that forcing it on young children could be "sexualising" them.
The row erupted after Birmingham City Council’s Labour cabinet member for equalities, Waseem Zaffar, announced on Facebook that he was challenging the school’s ban. Faith schools are free to set their own uniform policy.
Councillor Zaffar (Lozells and East Handsworth) wrote on Facebook that he had met with the headteacher and told her the ban on the scarf was against the equalities act.
Ms Gohir also insists that the hijab is not suggested in Islam until girls reach puberty.