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LONDON (ChurchMilitant.com) - The hijab, a traditional Islamic headscarf worn by women, is shockingly common in British primary schools.
The U.K.-based Sunday Times surveyed 800 primary schools in England, and discovered that 18 percent of schools allow for the hijab in their uniforms and dress codes.
The Sunday Times reported on the survey this week. If the schools sampled are at all indicative of the country as a whole, the report claims, it is likely that "[t]housands of state primary schools are allowing girls as young as five to wear the Muslim religious headscarf."
Last month, the depiction of a hijab-wearing girl in a children's book provoked outrage in Britain. The educational book was produced by Transport for London, and included a young girl of African descent wearing a hijab. One prominent critic of the book blasted it, saying, "You are sexualizing a four-year-old girl."
The hijab is typically not worn until puberty. Many fear that pre-pubescent girls wearing hijabs is a sign of the sexual objectification of these young children, while others argue that the girls just want to imitate their hijab-wearing mothers, and are preparing themselves for adulthood.
The concern about sexual objectification is not without basis. Child brides are common in certain Muslim cultures, where it is sometimes legal and even normalized for a middle-aged man to marry a pre-teen girl. The founder of Islam, Mohammed, himself had a young bride named Aisha. The girl's exact age is disputed; but some Islamic sources say that Aisha was as young as seven when Mohammed married her, and as young as ten when he began exploiting her.
The Times report included comments on its survey from Amina Lone, a Muslim and former Labour candidate for parliament. Lone expressed disdain at the notion of young girls wearing hijabs. "In an Islamic context," Lone argued, "the hijab is commonly understood as being for females after they reach the age of puberty."
Lone presented herself as speaking for the Islamic community as a whole; but some argue that sexually exploitative behavior is more common among Muslim immigrants to Europe than it is among Europe's population at large. Rape gangs and pedophilia circles, often peopled by Muslims, have been a major problem in some parts of Great Britain. Some feel that Leftist politicians refuse to acknowledge this for fear of being called "Islamophobic."