British Prime Minister Blair supports teacher's suspension

Says full-face veil makes non-Muslims uncomfortable
||Last Updated: 12/07/2006

British Prime Minister Tony Blair officially entered the controversy surrounding Muslim dress this week when he said he understands the reason for the suspension of a Dewsbury, Yorkshire teaching assistant.

In February, Aishah Azmi, a bilingual teaching assistant at a junior school, was asked to remove her niqab, a veil that covers everything but a woman's eyes, during lessons because students were finding it difficult to understand her. Azmi said she only wore the veil when around male colleagues and denied claims that children found it difficult to understand her when she wore the veil.

After she was suspended, she filed a religious discrimination complaint with an employment tribunal. On Oct. 19, the tribunal found in her favour for her vicimization suit, awarding her the equivalent of $2,125 Cdn. But it ruled against her claims of discrimination and harassment, a finding Azmi said she would appeal.