Teaching assistant in veil row is sacked by school

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The Independent Online

A Muslim teaching assistant who was suspended for refusing to remove her veil in the classroom has been sacked.

Aishah Azmi, 24, had been asked to remove her full face veil after pupils at Headfield Church of England Junior School complained that they found it hard to understand her while her face was covered.

Mrs Azmi had been suspended on full pay earlier this year by Kirklees Council but has now been sacked by the school governors.

Last month, an employment tribunal dismissed three of Mrs Azmi's claims of discrimination and harassment but awarded her £1,000 for "injury to feelings" after ruling that she had been victimised in her treatment by the school.

Kirklees Council confirmed yesterday that Mrs Azmi had been dismissed. A spokesman said a disciplinary hearing had been held by the school's governors into "the circumstances that resulted in the suspension of a support worker at the school. As result of the hearing, the committee decided to terminate the employment of the employee concerned."

Mrs Azmi was unavailable for comment.

She had argued that she was willing to remove her veil in front of children, but would not while male colleagues were present. Her case sparked a national debate about the wearing of the veil by Muslim women in Britain. Tony Blair joined the debate by describing the veil as a "mark of separation" which made people of other ethnic backgrounds feel uncomfortable.

The comments by a series of politicians, which culminated in Mr Blair's remarks, were criticised by the tribunal and Muslim community leaders. The tribunal report said it was "most unfortunate" that politicians had made comments on the case which were sub-judice.

The Labour MP Shahid Malik, who represents Mrs Azmi's home town of Dewsbury, said the right decision had been reached.

"What must come first are the interests, well-being and education of our children," he said.

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