Her fight for the right to wear the veil in class may have divided politicians but there was little support for the teaching assistant Aishah Azmi yesterday among parents at her school in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
Muslims and non-Muslims alike challenged Ms Azmi's demands to wear the veil in class. "I understand it is a personal choice but I certainly don't think you have to - and you shouldn't when teaching children," said one young Muslim mother, who was unwilling to be named.
Her thoughts were echoed by another Muslim woman, 28, who has three children at Headfield Church of England primary. "It is up to the individual, but it is not necessary to wear it in school or in front of children," she said.
Colleen Hinton, who has a nine-year-old daughter at the school, said Kirklees education authority was justified in suspending Ms Azmi because children needed to see "facial expressions when they are learning". Ms Hinton, 31, a retail assistant, from Dewsbury, said: "I think it is quite impersonal to speak to someone wearing a veil and it can be quite frightening for small children."
Another mother, Sarah Hill, 32, suggested lip-reading a teacher's words helped very young children to learn. "If they can't hear her, how can they learn? But I do think they have gone a bit far suspending her, they could have given her more time."
Gavin Fox, 43, said: "My daughter used to go to this school and she is deaf so needs to lip-read. Obviously this would have been a big problem for her.Wasim Ahmad, 37, who has four children at the school, said: "I'm really worried about what's going on because normally it's not a big issue.Reuse content