British police investigate abuse of head teacher at school that banned hijab

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Updated 18 February 2018
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British police investigate abuse of head teacher at school that banned hijab

LONDON: Police in the UK have opened an investigation into online abuse targeting the head teacher of an East London primary school where girls younger than the age of eight were banned from wearing the hijab.
Neena Lall, the head teacher at St. Stephen’s primary school, along with Arif Qawi, the former chairman of governors, received emails, Facebook posts and other social media messages leading to a complaint being filed with police, according to The Sunday Times.
Qawi said he received abusive online messages the day after a report broke about St. Stephen’s last month which mentioned the decision to ban the hijab being worn by young girls.
Local Imam Yunus Dudhwala shared Qawi’s Facebook post of The Sunday Times article and invited people to comment online.
According to reports, some of the messages that followed were abusive. One described Qawi as a “coconut,” while another comment claimed he was Islamophobic; a third comment called him an “imbecile.”
The school has since reversed its hijab ban, with Qawi claiming that the campaign of messages, some abusive, had forced the school to change tack.
Qawi has since resigned his position, stating that he left as he did not agree with reversing the hijab ban and to protect the head teacher. “She was told that if I left, the campaign would stop,” he told The Sunday Times.
St. Stephen’s school also reportedly forbade Muslim pupils from fasting on school days during Ramadan. Qawi refuted the claim, telling The Sunday Times: “We did not ban fasting altogether but we encouraged (children) to fast in holidays, at weekends and not on the school campus.
“Here we are responsible for their health and safety if they pass out on campus ... it is not fair to us.”
School inspectors are expected to publish a report praising the school’s leaders and governors this week.
Ofsted is expected to criticize the pressures that have fallen on Lall and her management team.
The education secretary, Damian Hinds, has defended the school in an interview, saying: “No head teacher or governing body should be subject to the sorts of abuse we have heard reported in these recent incidents.”


Eastern Russian port Vladivostok prepares to host Kim Jong Un

Updated 10 sec ago
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Eastern Russian port Vladivostok prepares to host Kim Jong Un

  • The Kremlin announced that Kim will visit Russia to hold his first talks with President Vladimir Putin in late April
  • Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected in Russia’s far-eastern port Vladivostok in the coming days, according to reports that have prompted excitement and concern among local residents.
After weeks of speculation, the Kremlin announced that Kim will visit Russia to hold his first talks with President Vladimir Putin in late April. It gave no details on a date or place, citing “security reasons.”
Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok, home to Moscow’s Pacific Fleet.
The port lies only about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Russia’s short border with North Korea. This proximity is no doubt important for Kim, who is rumored to travel aboard his armored train.
The 35-year-old will be following in the footsteps of his father Kim Jong Il, who met the newly elected Putin in Vladivostok in 2002.
The far eastern city rarely sees major international events, and some locals are happy for the city to be in the spotlight.
“Any visit is good, whether it’s an enemy or a friend,” said Danil, a student at Vladivostok’s Far Eastern Federal University, billed by the media as a possible venue for the summit.
He welcomed the talks, saying “you can only make decisions through dialogue and communication.”
Nadezhda, a native of the city, said it will be a global event and “will be a boost for development in our city.”
Authorities this week were busy cleaning garbage near railways leading to the city, Russian media reported.
“The depressing view from the train window does not give a positive impression to guests of Vladivostok arriving by train,” an official from the local branch of Russian Railways told the Interfax news agency.
Nadezhda said she was “absolutely not afraid of (North Korea’s) nuclear program” and would like to see the country.
North Korea said this week it was testing nuclear weapons after a round of talks with the US ended in failure.
But Anna Marinina was less enthusiastic about the summit, and said that if Pyongyang did use its weapons, Vladivostok would be in the firing line.
“The people that panic the most about North Korea are safe on the other side of the ocean,” she said.
“If something were to happen, it would fall on us.”
Putin has long said he was ready to meet with Kim and is preparing to play a bigger role in nuclear negotiations with Moscow’s Cold War-era ally.
The last meeting between Russian and North Korean heads of state was in 2011, when Kim’s father traveled by train to Siberia, where he took a boat ride on Lake Baikal and held tightly guarded talks with then president Dmitry Medvedev.
There is a chance however that fresh talks will not take place at all, as Kim pulled out of 2015 celebrations in Moscow for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II at the last minute.