London College Bans Face-Obscuring Hoods and Veils

Security concerns following the July bombings in London have prompted a University of London college to ban clothing that obscures the face, including the full veils some Muslims wear.

The new dress code rules, put in place Nov. 2 at Imperial College London, also require students, employees and visitors to wear identification badges on campus. Hoods and scarves which only cover the head, such as the hijab, are allowed as long as the entire face is visible.

"This policy is all about security, so people on the campus can be recognized or identified," college spokeswoman Abigail Smith said Friday.

But the policy is raising concern among some Muslims. Ajmal Masroor, spokesman for the Islamic Society of Britain advocacy group, said the college should not be dictating the clothing its students and employees wear.

"It seems like what's happening in today's world in the name of security is that individual liberties are constantly violated, and this is a dangerous development. ... This kind of move will only alienate the young people and go against the tradition of a multicultural society in Britain," Masroor said.

Smith said there had been no complaints from students or staff about the new dress code, but that any concerns would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The ban was not a "blanket rule," she said.

"We know it's a sensitive issue, and we realize there has to be room to maneuver," Smith said.

Recent terrorist attacks have caused the college to look more closely at security issues, she said. Imperial's Management Board, the college's senior decision-making body, approved the new dress code at its Oct. 21 meeting.

Imperial is one of 20 independently governed colleges in the University of London system. None of the eight other colleges that responded to Associated Press calls Friday had similar bans in place, although several require people on campus to carry identification badges.

A statement from Queen Mary, University of London, said that while the school has no current plans to ban facial coverings, its security measures are constantly under review.


Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Loading