A Muslim student has been banned from enrolling at a college because she refused to remove her burkha [sic – they presumably mean niqab]. Shawana Bilqes, 18, wanted to wear the garment – which covers her body and face, leaving only her eyes visible – during lessons. But staff at Burnley College refused to enrol her, claiming the burkha was a barrier to “safety and communication”. In a strongly worded statement, the college said “unimpeded” face to face contact between teachers and students was vital.
Miss Bilqes, who wanted to study an access course for a diploma, has now been forced to abandon her plans and is looking elsewhere to complete her studies.
Yesterday she said: “It is my choice to wear the veil. I live around the corner from the college in an area where there are so many practising Muslims. I tried to compromise but they wouldn’t. The college sent me a letter to say I could continue with my course if I stopped wearing the veil. We are in the 21st century and we get people from all walks of life. I’m in the police cadets as well and yet it’s not a problem wearing the veil there.”
See also Burnley Express, 21 October 2009