Mother is turned away from parents’ evening because she refused to remove full-face veil
Maroon Rafique missed an important talk concerning her son's university education because she would not remove the niqab
By Tammy Hughes
PUBLISHED: 17:27, 24 June 2012 | UPDATED: 17:31, 24 June 2012
..A mother was turned away from a school parents’ evening because she refused to remove her full-face veil.
Maroon Rafique, 40, was told that for the security and safety of children and teachers at the college there was a ban on any type of face coverings.
She was warned that unless she removed her full-face covering, known as the niqab, she would not be allowed to enter the college to attend the parents’ evening.
In the end, Mrs Rafique left the building and was forced to call her husband, who took her place and attended the meeting with their son Awais, 18.
Embarrassed: Maroon Rafique was turned away from a college parents' evening because she was wearing a veil
Mrs Rafique, who has worn the niqab for seven years, said: ‘I’m born in this country and I'm British. Why should what I wear offend anyone?
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‘I didn’t want to make any fuss. All I wanted was to find out the information to help my son go to university.
‘I offered to sit at the back or at the front, anywhere where I wouldn’t be seen, if they thought I was going to offend anyone.
‘I was really upset because whenever I’ve visited the college before there’s never been a problem, in fact the tutors have been welcoming and friendly.’
Mrs Rafique, of Whalley Range, Manchester, had been invited to attend the parents’ evening and talk about her son’s education at The Manchester College.
But when the mother-of-two arrived she was apprehended by security staff in the lobby of the college’s Northenden campus.
Mrs Rafique, who is married to double glazing firm boss Abdul, 40, and has a younger son, Ibrahim, 12, said she felt humiliated.
She added: ‘I do get abuse every now and again in the street, which I just have to deal with. However, I was very surprised when I was treated this way by the college.’
Business student Awais, 18, who hopes to take an accountancy course at Manchester University, said: ‘It was really embarrassing when they told her she couldn’t come in. We’ve never, ever been told about any rule about what parents can wear.’
Apprehended: Mrs Rafique was refused entry to The Manchester College by senior staff who told her there was a ban on face coverings
A spokesman for The Manchester College said Mrs Rafique’s concerns were being taken ‘very seriously’ following the incident.
She added: ‘The Manchester College provides a safe and inclusive environment that fosters development and achievement. We apply a single dress code to all college users, including learners and visitors.
‘At all times we need to be able to identify all individuals easily in order to maintain safety and security and therefore we ask that faces are clearly visible while indoors.
‘Our dress code is reviewed through our quality improvement group and we will take this situation into account at the next review.’
In March, a Muslim woman was barred from serving on a jury because she refused to remove her niqab.
The judge said she could not sit on an attempted murder trial because the niqab concealed her facial expressions. The woman was about to take the oath in the case at Blackfriars Crown Court in London when Judge Aidan Marron QC interrupted.
He said: ‘Would you prefer not to remove your veil in this particular case?’ The woman, who was wearing western clothing including a fitted grey jacket, replied: ‘Yes.’
Judge Marron added: ‘I entirely understand that, but in this particular case it is desirable that your face is exposed, so I’m going to invite you to stand down. I hope you understand.’ The incident caused outrage among Muslim groups who claimed no one should be excluded from jury service for the way they dress.
Last year, France banned the full-face veil, introducing fines for anyone who breaks the law.
The bill, which was passed in April 2011, had overwhelming cross-party support and was popular in polls across the country.
Last September, two women were arrested and fined for wearing the niqab as they protested the ban outside a town hall.
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