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Religious assault charge on teacher

Hazel Dick has been charged with religiously aggravated assault for asking a pupil to remove her head scarf (hijab).

india Updated: Dec 29, 2003 12:28 IST
UK Bureau
UK Bureau

A secondary school teacher is due to appear in court after being charged with religiously aggravated assault, for allegedly forcing a 15-year-old Muslim girl to remove her head scarf (hijab). The girl, whose parents are from Pakistan, has not been named.

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The rather unusual charge was brought after science teacher Hazel Dick reportedly asked the pupil to remove the scarf saying that it was not school uniform.

Nearly 40 per cent of students at the 900-pupil Bretton Woods Community School in Peterborough are from ethnic minorities. The school allows Muslim girls to wear a grey hijab on religious grounds, but it is said that the 15-year-old pupil was wearing a black one with a jewel motif on it.

The girl complained to her parents who contacted the police. She told the officers that as the scarf was removed she was scratched under the chin by a pin that is used to hold it in place. Police thereafter interviewed the teacher and sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for advice.

The CPS has told the officers to proceed with the charge of religiously aggravated assault. The school head, however, informed that the teacher has not been suspended.

First Published: Dec 24, 2003 21:35 IST