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.”


Kenya reassures public after Ebola false alarm

Updated 27 min 45 sec ago
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Kenya reassures public after Ebola false alarm

  • Kariuki spelt out a list of preventive measures that Kenya had already taken

NAIROBI: Kenya sought to reassure the public and foreign visitors on Monday after a suspected Ebola case, which turned out to be negative, was detected near the border with Uganda.

Uganda last week reported three cases of Ebola, two of them fatal, among people who had been to neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where an epidemic has been underway since last August.

Kenyan Health Minister Sicily Kariuki said a 36-year-old woman in the western county of Kericho had fallen ill with headache, fever and vomiting, which can also be symptoms of Ebola.

Further examination found she did not have the disease, Kariuki said at a press conference staged at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

“The Rapid Surveillance and Response Team has examined the patient, who is in stable condition, and has confirmed that she does not meet the case definition for Ebola,” she said.

“I wish to reassure all Kenyans and our visitors that we do not have any cases of Ebola.”

The Ugandan cases were confirmed in a town that is more than 600 km from the border with Kenya.

Kariuki spelt out a list of preventive measures that Kenya had already taken.

They included the installation of thermal cameras at entry points to detect people with high temperatures, as well as isolation units to host suspected cases. More than 250 Health Ministry workers have been deployed at entry points as part of this strategy.

The minister called on the public to be vigilant, urging anyone with Ebola-like symptoms who had traveled to affected countries to go to the nearest hospital.