Hijab Discrimination at a School in Kuwait

Post by Mark

Yesterday I was tagged on instagram under an image where a British teacher wanting to work in Kuwait was complaining about a school she applied to that wanted her to take her hijab off. The recruiter told the teacher that parents wanted their kids taught by teachers that didn’t wear hijab, and so if she was interested in joining, she would have to remove her hijab. I thought it was pretty bizarre that a school in Kuwait would discriminate against the hijab so I contacted the original poster who forwarded me all the emails and turns out its true. Below are the conversations between the teacher and the recruiter which I copy pasted from the emails. I’ve removed the name of the school and also replaced the names of the teacher and recruiter with fake ones. I’ve also forwarded the emails to Fajer the lawyer to get her opinion on the legality of this situation as well as contacted the school for their statement.

I’m curious if this is a widespread problem in Kuwait or just an isolated incident. How many teachers at this specific school ended up removing their hijab so they could get the job?

———-

Good morning Carla,
I emailed you about keeping me in mind for any other positions that may be available in the future but have not received any reply from you. Please will you destroy my passport documents if you are completely not interested anymore. In all honesty I feel gutted as I feel like I was not given a chance to show you that I would be ideal for the job. Surely I am entitled to an interview and then you can make decisions upon that.

Regardless of the situation, I am still interested and it would be very much appreciated if you could get back to me. Have a wonderful day.

Kind regards,
Faiza.

———-

Good Morning Faiza

Thank you for your emails.

I am so sorry I didn’t reply as I have been out of the office. I am happy to interview you as we may well need teachers for January 2018.

I do need to ask you if it would be possible to remove your hijab whilst teaching in the XXXX XXXXX Nursery school as our Kuwaiti parents like British Teachers but not wearing hijab. I know this is a delicate area and hope you do not feel offended in any way.

Please have a think about it and let me know if you would like to proceed to interview.

I look forward to hearing back.
Kind Regards

Carla
Recruitment
HR Department

———-

Afternoon Carla,
I have read your email and just wanted some clarification. I am extremely interested in this role but just wanted to know if it is necessary for me to remove my hijab in order to be successful for the job. Also Is it imperative for me to remove the hijab in order for me to go head with the interview process? Please could you let me know as soon as possible.

Kind regards
Faiza

———-

Hi Faiza
Thanks for your email.
It wouldn’t be necessary for you to remove your hijab to have a first interview with me but probably for second interview and we would need to have a photo of you without your hijab for Management purposes if you were successful, as your passport photo is of you covered.

Just for your your reference, in the XXXX XXXXX Schools, there are only female staff.
I look forward to hearing back.
Kind Regards.

———-

Hi Carla,
I partly understand what you are saying but still have a few questions. If I was to be successful would I have to teach with no hijab on or even meet parents with no hijab. Am I able to wear my hijab in my own time or is this an issue as well. As you can imagine I am a little bit confused as I felt the hijab would be preferred and encouraged in Kuwait more than anything as it is a predominately Muslim country- one of the main factors that reeled me into the job. I can understand for security and management purposes a non hijab picture may be necessary but I am finding it difficult to understand that Kuwaiti Muslim parents may be against the Muslim head wear. Please clarify when and where I will be able to observe the hijab or not. Thankyou for your time.

Kind regards Faiza

———-

Dear Faiza

The customer (the parents) do not want their children taught by covered teachers. It is an English School. You can wear the hijab whilst not on the school premises but not in the school.
If this isn’t acceptable to you I wish you every success.
This is non negotiable.
Kind Regards


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145 comments, add your own...


  1. Sam says:

    Even in private sector I’ve seen that the dress code does not permit full face veils. But again, I guess it is for the company to make the rules?

    • khaled says:

      full face veils are cultural and not related to any religious affiliation. or work appropriate

      • Crumble says:

        Many of us also believe that the hijab is cultural and Is a dileberate and willful misinterpretation of the text. The fact that no woman (except the prophets wives) wore a hijab for over 300 years after Mohamed died.

        • Noorah says:

          Crumble, that may be YOUR understanding of it, but that is NOT the majority Muslim view.

          Unless you are an actual qualified religious scholar of Islam your “opinion” has no real bearing at all.

          • Woah says:

            Ok…

            Why are you so offended by his interpretation of the text?

            Chill.

            • Crumble says:

              I guess she spent many years wearing hijab and doesn’t like the feeling that it was all in vain.

            • Noorah says:

              @Woah, because it’s an injustice!

              It is precisely because of people like him who peddle misinformation about Islamic teachings that sisters who wear the veil get discriminated against!

              • Adam says:

                Each of the many sects/denominations of the religion has many many different understandings that are not in line with your own understanding.

                That does not entitle you to anything especially does not entitle you to get angry/upset about what you label as ‘misinformation’.

                It is actually you who is precisely the problem. People see your angry reaction to peaceful remarks and then joke about how they fight over which religion/sect/denomination is the most peaceful!

                • Khan says:

                  I second Adam of this one. People who label other people’s understanding as misinformation are the crux of the problem. Discrimination based on one’s choice of attire is completely wrong, but women who claim to be discrimated against for wearing hijab consider it a pious act to discriminate against women who don’t.

  2. Sh says:

    Third line, first paragraph typo.
    Should be “taught” instead of “thought”. :)

  3. SS says:

    Being a hijabi, yes this is common in cooperate sector as well. not just restrictions to face veils but the hijab & abaya itself. how does the hijab affect my credentials i fail to understand. being in a Muslim country this is not expected.
    Waiting for Lawyer Fajer’s comment.

  4. Danny says:

    IMO a nursery where multi race and people of different ethnicity and religion study, any kind of discrimination among students and teachers should be unwelcome. This is a norm worldwide with the exception of one country. So let’s respect the rules laid down by the nursery and it’s in no way a cultural invasion.

    • Crumble says:

      Exactly, all these ‘liberal’, ‘enlightened’ commenters wouldn’t be happy if their own kids were being taught by a nun wearing a habit.

    • Noorah says:

      Danny, How about we respect the laws of the land of Kuwait first. It is illegal to discriminate against someone wearing hijab. The school should have it’s licence revoked for breaking the law.

      • Adrian says:

        The applicant isn’t a resident of Kuwait and hence I don’t think the laws of the land really apply to the situation. Could she take them to court in her country? Probably not. Can she come here and file a case? Probably not.
        I am in no way justifying what happened, just a black and white view of your comment about “law of the land”

    • Ashraf says:

      Dear Danny,

      So don’t you think stopping someone from wearing a Hijab is discrimination?
      you would respect he laws laid down by a nursery over the laws laid down by a country?
      In a world pleading for freedom, why isn’t a muslim woman free to wear the Hijab is that’s her choice? why are we forcing her to remove it and taking away her freedom?

    • Aziz says:

      Your argument, logically, does not make sense. Your argument begins with a claim that discrimination should not exist in a nursery that is ethnically and religiously (or lack of) diverse, but you follow through with a statement that we should “respect the rules laid down by the nursery.” See how it doesn’t flow?

      And crumble, I consider myself quite liberal. That does not necessitate that I’d prefer my kids (if I had kids..) be taught by teachers that are not “nuns.” I couldn’t care less.

      A hijab is a choice. In some instances, more often than not in emerging countries, it is coerced on women by men. But in this case, and in many other cases, it is a choice. A choice that parents, the superintendent and the HR team needs to respect. No exceptions. I think this situation is outrageous. But I do think Mark, and other bloggers, should continue to showcase and highlight these situations to their readers, if they hear about them, to tackle discrimination in this country and other GCC countries. Whether it is against expatriates, teachers, etc.

      We need to look beyond religion, culture, ethnicity, etc. and focus on a person’s credentials. Discrimination should never be legitimized and justified.

      This school should be held accountable for this decision. It is nothing short of baseless discrimination. And if it is not illegal, it should be.

    • Hussain Khashab says:

      Do you realize that you’re steeping over your own point? You claim that a nursery is a place where people of multiple races, ethnicity, and religious backgrounds co-exist. Then you support the act of denying someone from practicing their religion at this multi-cultural nursery.

      You make me face palm so hard I can’t feel my nose anymore.

  5. adly says:

    you’ve opened up a very controversial subject Mark. Do employers have the right to enforce a dress code? And is the hijab considered a part of the dress code or not? Same goes for beach clubs and hotel swimming pools. Many beach clubs and hotels dont allow women to swim wearing a burqini. And the same goes for some night spots (bars and clubs) where they dont allow women wearing the veil to enter. Im obviously not comparing a bar to a school, but Im just using all of the above as examples of this controversial subject, especially when you take into consideration that some experts believe that the hijab is a personal choice and others believe its a ‘fard’ or a must and that there’s no room for discussion in the first place. I personally dont have a problem with a woman who thinks that she should cover her hair, but I do draw the line at niqab which is I think has no place in modern society anywhere at any time…..especially at schools, or while driving or even while just walking around….

  6. babagaboush says:

    At least the school has been straightforward about it, rather than make her waste her time by 1) going to an interview and 2) being assessed in an convoluted manner about her disposition to work without it, and then 3) discarded without really knowing why.

  7. ifti says:

    Couple of years ago, my wife, a French national and who wears a hijab, was teaching at an English school here in Kuwait. She was told that she should get rid of the hijab and wear more modern clothes (she wears abaya) as this is what parents at the school expected for a European teacher. Actually, they expected a white teacher, blond with blue eyes… sad.

    Suffice to say that she did not stick around too long, her principles being of more value than whatever the school offered. However, I wonder how many other teachers have succumbed to this type of policy, which I understand to be prevalent here in Kuwait?

    Incidentally, when my wife taught in the U.K., the schools had utmost respect for her when she wore her hijab/abaya and this was never a factor for her employment.

    • Fawaz says:

      Yeah sadly Kuwaiti parents here have a stereotype that comes with English schools and american schools which is totally ridiculous, personally i believe its their need to have their child become some one they arent ethnically and culturally. Which is sad because knowledge is knowledge and it can come from many people.

    • Crumble says:

      And that’s why the UK is now overrun with the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS fanboys.

  8. Yazi says:

    I had an opposite experience where the company told me I had to wear a hijab to get the job. I declined the position but it can be tough. They have the right of choosing a person that is in line with their company’s image.

  9. Q8since says:

    This is very surprising and at the same time very awkward to see it happens in Arab country. Schools trying to be inspired by western education and environment I guess but many western cultures strictly prohibit employment discrimination and this is the perfect example of it. I know some ladies with hijabs working at private Schools with British & American systems so never new about this.

    • Noorah says:

      Yup, I know of many such incidents. I myself was told that I would have a hard time finding employment in a “good” English school in hijab (head-cover, NOT niqab, which is the face-veil). I have 3 friends who were all discriminated against specifically because of the hijab and others who were discriminated against because of niqab.
      The irony is that when I was teaching English – in hijab (and abaya!) – Kuwaiiti parents would often take me aside and tell me how HAPPY they were that I was wearing it! Young children in particular would rush in and hug me and some would even call me “mama”.
      Admittedly, there were a few parents who seemed a little confused when I initially introduced myself as their child’s English teacher but after they got talking to me and heard my accent and listened to what I had to say, they quickly were put at ease.
      The sad reality is that many of the schools in Kuwait would prefer a non-qualified “white” non-hijab-wearing teacher to a qualified visibly Muslim teacher(white or otherwise).

      Hijab discrimination also happens in real estate. I know many hijab-wearing Western expats who have a hard time finding housing because the owners/companies specify in their advertisements “Westerners only” and then when they meet these hijab-wearing Westerners they turn them down.

      It’s a very sad and very real problem out here.

      • Fawaz says:

        I don’t think the niqab has any place in a school setting. I would like my child to see the face of the person they are being taught by.

        • Crumble says:

          More importantly, I dont want my child being in close contact with someone with that mentality.

        • Noorah says:

          Fawaz, perhaps you are not aware, but women in niqab don’t actually wear niqab in front of children. They wear niqab in front of adult males.

          As a matter of interest, do you have a problem with surgeons operating on you in a surgical mask? When they cover their nose and mouth in the same way as a woman wearing a niqab does -don’t you feel it would restrict them in the same way?

          Or do you just have a problem with religious attire and not the actual restrictions that a 3 inch piece if cloth would impart?

          • Bee says:

            You will see your surgeons face during your consultation, where he will not be covered by a mask, and again right before your surgery. Once your asleep and in theatre is when he’ll be wearing his mask.
            Unhygienic otherwise.
            But I was sad to read your previous comment regarding schools in Kuwait going more for an image as opposed to credentials. Sad, but not surprised.

            • Noorah says:

              Bee, but does his surgical mask prevent him from doing his job – the actual surgery? Clearly, he IS able to both operate (use intricate tools) and effectively communicate to his support staff (nurses and other doctors) while carrying out difficult surgery. So, whether the patient gets to speak to him or see his face or not before or after is irrelevant. The point is: can someone communicate and handle intricate objects while wearing a face veil? If it is proven that a person can carry out their job efficiently and professional while wearing a face cover (which the above example demonstrates) then on what basis is it fair or justified to ban some people from wearing it in far less life-threatening situations?

              • Khan says:

                Yeah, I can never quite get used to intelligent people willfully ignorant to the folly of their argument. The surgeon analogy doesn’t work at all in this case. The surgeon doesn’t wear the mask out of personal choice to hide his precious expressions from the people he commimunicates with, he wears it for the sake of the patient. There would be absolutely no objection from anybody, if u said that the said teacher had a contagious disease and was wearing a mask to prevent children and others from catching it.

          • Xtina says:

            Did you seriously just compare the niqab to a surgeon’s mask which they wear to prevent catching bacteria ????? what is the point of niqab and why would a woman want to hide her identity by covering her face? I personally don’t get it and will never support it. And neither should western communities that have started banning it. Just like how a muslim country such as Kuwait bans the placing of crosses on Churches, Western countries have the right to ban women from covering their faces if they wish to.

      • LoL says:

        >hijab-wearing
        >westerner

        Pick one.

  10. Natalie says:

    What you all don’t seem to understand is that this school which for obvious reasons I can’t mention the name they have staff that wear hijab. So why is it that a British women who is Muslim is being told that she can’t if she wants a job at this school. This school has a number of Egyptian/Lebanese teachers who wear hijab many assistants who wear hijab but are not British/ American or Canadian nationality. The reason why this entire scenario is so wrong is because they feel that since they are going through the whole trouble of hiring someone from uk she needs to look the part and by look the part I mean “modern and westernized” this is what’s so wrong about this situation. Why couldn’t the school write we are looking for a non Muslim teacher or we are looking for a non hijabi teacher????? Because they themselves know it’s wrong on so many levels! They have crossed the line.

  11. Mr Rahman says:

    I’ve faced the same problem with a couple of the more established schools in kuwait. I’m a British Muslim with a decent beard. I’ve held positions of responsibility in my current school too. Considering I’m in kuwait you’d think a school would snap up the opportunity to recieve a demo lesson. But no, they’d rather give the position to someone who simply does an interview over Skype. In another school I managed to get the interview however the owners of the school saw my picture and literally said “he’s beard is too long, he looks too muslim”. The principal told me I had the job but he’d have to forward my application to the directors for approval. I was disgusted when he called me and broke the news. In fact one of the directors wears a hijab herself. I went back to that school for another interview a few years later (last academic year) and again the principal (this time a different principal) was very happy with me. And again they rejected me. On paper and in action I must say I’m pretty good (Alhamdullillah). This second school ended up suffering because no one was applying for their maths post so they ended up employing someone with a shorter beard. In the first school they would simply send me an email very fast to say I was unsuccessful. Weird. And in he second school a friend of mine that had a light beard was told to trim it down because it looked too religious. There is definitely discrimination taking place in these british schools and I just can’t believe that muslim parents are against bearded/covered teachers. English school simply means British curriculum and anyone who knows the uk will know how multicultural it really is.

  12. Bo Jaij says:

    I Don’t think she is being targeted because of the hijab . Some Parents worry about showing a religious preference to children who do not need any conditioning in this matter. The same parents would refuse to have their children taught by someone wearing a Buddhist robe or a Nun’s veil. I know many Atheists Kuwaiti families who are trying to minimize the amount of religious conditioning their children receive from schools. I know it looks like discrimination, but parents who pay for private education have the right to choose what is best for their children in this part of the world.

    • Fawaz says:

      That wouldn’t make sense if the Atheist families wish their children to become like them then its the childs choice and not the choice the parent has the right to make. And you have to consider the fact that cause the women was wearing something that has become a part of our culture from 600 AD till now isn’t really religious conditioning, the teacher is merely teaching the specific subject then leaving, its not a isis recruitment center. Thats irrational behavior. If the Buddhist is or nun wish to teach in which ever clothes they are using shouldn’t matter, all that matters practically is the knowledge she is transferring to the children if its good knowledge then its more then good enough.

      • Crumble says:

        Has nothing to do with atheism. But not all of us Muslims believe in salafi things like hijab.

        • Mohammed says:

          My friend give me a proof that hijab is salafi and I will make sure that everyone will close this debate,i in person my wife a teachers wears a hijab and my mom doesn’t and for me it doesn’t really matter since it is there choice,but reading your comment here really got on my nerve I need a proof that hijab Is a salafi.so by saying that this means that Christians nuns are salafis as well?

    • SS says:

      well the parents can try harder then, cause in this day and age its practically impossible to have any sort of religious exposure. in my opinion you cant just confine kids, how are they going to learn tolerance then.

    • lolguy says:

      At KD 3000+ a year and if the school has English, British/ American in its name, the teachers are expected to be the stereotypical British or American. White, blonde haired and blue eyed. Qualification and degree comes later or doesn’t really matter. Notice how adverts for such vacancies say “native” english speakers wanted.

  13. Bojaij says:

    Did you delete my comment?

  14. The real says:

    FYI Discrimination is part of the package in Kuwait.

    1. Kuwaitis not allowed to rent certain accommodations

    2. Expats being told to use separate hospitals etc etc

    Unless there is a fundamental challenge to the entire system you have no right to question the legality of an individual school’s hiring practices – and publicily employing a lawyer’s response is clearly simply shit stirring.

    • F says:

      Isn’t talking about these issues a part of challenging the entire system? This is how it starts. You want things to change, bring issues like this one to the public’s attention. So I don’t see how someone wouldn’t have a right to question the legality of a school’s hiring practices.

    • Xtina says:

      if locals aren’t allowed to rent flats then it’s because of their lovely reputation. Obviously not all are the same, but the majority will cause problems or damage the property and it might take ages for the landlord to kick them out.. And we all know why bachelors rent flats in Kuwait …….

  15. Marco says:

    I find nothing wrong with the school’s way of handling this. They actually handled it with respect and honesty.

    The hijab is not really dress code, it’s a religious symbol and I would understand why some parents want their kids to be in an environment that’s free of all religious symbols, not just the hijab.

    Kuwait may be a Muslim country, but it has a lot of people who don’t want their kids to be Muslim or religious in any way which is their human right. It’s good that a school like this exists to provide choice for parents like that. There are plenty of other schools in Kuwait (the majority, actually) who would welcome the lady wearing the hijab from this post. There’s no discrimination here as far as I’m concerned. She has the right to wear her hijab as much as the school doesn’t want a lady in hijab to work there.

    • Bo Jaij says:

      Well said. Thank you sir

    • Fawaz says:

      Hmmm honestly i see where your coming from but i still dont see it as practical, the school or nursery is acting irrational, the individuals credentials are all that matter and how much of a good job she would have done teaching, results are more important if then of she were wearing a hijab or not. As for it being a religious symbol i have to disagree at this point and age it no longer is a symbol but more of a culture norm which has developed over the years, if the school wishes to refuse her then refuse her but the its impractical if it were for the hijab only, there is a 50% chance that specific individual could have been extremely talented and you just lost a really good asset. And hence that is my opinion :D

    • Noorah says:

      Marco are you for real?

      Firstly, Muslim women are required in Islam to wear hijab. Whether or not they choose to do so is up to their personal choice. Most Muslim women recognise though that if they choose not to wear hijab they are committing a crime against God. So it is not just a matter of religious symbolism, it is a religious requirement.

      Secondly, as for your argument that ‘some parents want their children in an environment free of religious symbolism’ how can this possibly be the case? Are those parents going to ban hijab-wearing parents from picking up their kids? Are they going to blindfold their kids on the journey home?! If such parents exist (and I highly doubt that) then they took a very poor and unrealistic decision to move to a Muslim majority country in the Middle East – where the call to prayer rings out 5 times a day; alcohol and pork are banned; and women and men are free to dress as Muslims in public. It is nothing less than delusional to expect to insulate one’s children from religious symbolism out here! Obviously, no intelligent, fair-minded, non-racist/Islamophobic parent would expect or allow such blatant discrimination in their child’s school!

      Thirdly, you speak of human rights but you seem completely unable to recognise Muslim women hijab-wearers as having the right to equal and fair job opportunities!
      Thankfully, the law in Kuwait, as in most Western countries, recognises that it is illegal to discriminate against hijab-wearers in the workplace. Freedom of religious belief is a human right granted to all people. It is truly shocking that you would want to deny that to a Muslim in a Muslim country!

      • Mohammed says:

        Very well said

      • Trojan_Troy says:

        @Noorah I think you’re forgetting the most important thing…CHOICE! The parents can CHOOSE other schools and the teachers can CHOOSE other places of employment! If this was a public school, THEN there would be need of outrage!

      • Marco says:

        Noorah, I am just trying to see it from the school’s perspective. I am not personally against hijab, I believe in choice and the freedom to choose hijab as well as the freedom not to.

        Personally, I would prefer a child of mine to go to a school where diversity is not only accepted, but celebrated. I want my child to see girls in hijabs, people wearing crosses as jewelry, Hindus, etc. all getting along and celebrating Ramadan, Christmas, Dewali, etc. together. Unfortunately, there aren’t any schools (to my knowledge) that provide that in Kuwait, and so as a parent, if I had to choose between a Muslim school and one that is completely stripped of religious symbolism such as hijab, I would go for the latter. Although you think of it as a religious requirement (also debatable according to some sheiks), it is definitely a religious symbol.

        Human rights: sure, she absolutely has the right to choose to wear her hijab. She also has the right to equal and fair job opportunities. However, she did not fit one specific requirement at that school: no head scarf. She can take it or leave it. There are plenty of other jobs for her, her livelihood shouldn’t depend on this school or any other school. I don’t see that this school discriminated against this lady at all. They were clear and respectful until the end. And yes, it is illegal to discriminate against hijab-wearers in the workplace, but after they’ve already been hired. I completely agree with you that freedom of religious belief is a human right granted to all people. The school did not deny her that right.

        • Trojan_Troy says:

          I agree 💯% with your statement. The school was forward and polite about there requirements before hitting her. So no foul on the administration. They dodged a serious bullet. I’m pretty sure they will review and update there teachers contacts for what would be ground for immediate dismissal once a rule like that is broken. Private schools & businesses don’t always share the same mindset with local society.

  16. Bojaij says:

    seems like you are trying to direct the discussion into an attack on Kuwaitis? I hope not. Not cool

  17. Anonymous says:

    I find it ridiculous that a job applicant in a conservative, officially Islamic country is being turned away because she wants to wear a hijab.

    Surely the laws in any country take precedence over any operational rules and contracts made by local institutions, businesses and people? Why have laws, and why have courts and a legislature if anyone can make up their own rules of engagement as they please?

    Knowing a little bit about Kuwait, I’d suspect that the school in question is allowed to get away with it because it’s English and not Arab, Asian or African.

    • Anonymous says:

      Looking at the comments about many parents prefer to send their children to a school in which there are no religious symbols I’m inclined to think that there are two other possibilities:

      1. The government recognizes that if they enforce certain laws very strictly there may not be enough expatriates willing to come to the country to do some of the jobs that need to be done.

      2. The school doesn’t fear circumventing the law for some reason.

      The real world often operates in shades of grey, not a simplistic black and white.

    • Sumaiya says:

      It’s not an English school. No business in kuwait is owned but other nationalities. The school is owned by a Kuwaitie

  18. Bo Jaij says:

    Thanks I can go back now running my private school.

  19. Christiana says:

    This is shocking!
    I am not Muslim and from the uk and my kids go to a British school here.
    I wouldn’t care if their teacher (or anyone) wore a hijab in the uk, let alone a Muslim country!
    I am really upset by this, it’s so rude and unnecessary!
    I highly doubt it’s about Kuwaiti parents complaining and if that’s the case then they should be ashamed of themselves!
    I feel that a dress code should be imposed among schools e.g. no short skirts, cleavage, scruffy appearance. There is nothing wrong with some modesty and taking some pride in your appearance! Asking someone to remove the hijab is outrageous!
    Even the birkini should be accepted! One has the personal right to expose (to a degree) or cover any part of their body they see fit. For whatever reason!
    Peace, love and diversity is the way forward!

    • Crumble says:

      And members of the KKK should wear their white hoods everywhere, because its clothes and we can all show or hide what we want. That’s how silly your argument is. Obviously this isn’t a discussion about fashion, but the idea behind said fashion. Wearing a hijab/niqab is a religious symbol. The KKK white hoods are a political statement. A rainbow flag isn’t just a colorful flag.

    • Sam says:

      I cracked up at your last bit. Yeah, a teacher wearing a bikini would be great. I’d love to go back to school for that!

      • Christiana says:

        Lol Sam…
        I just really find it silly that someone can’t get a job if they want to cover up.
        I’ve heard of health clubs etc banning burkinis… if the material is ok for the pool then why not?
        As a woman I have paranoid days for my body etc… if I want to wear a burkini to cover up then why should I be dictated to otherwise?
        The hijab can be viewed as a religious symbol but also as a personal choice of modesty.
        There are other religions and cultures that cover their hair as symbol of purity or modesty.
        In my opinion the kkk is a very negative argument in which to compare a woman’s right to choose her attire! lol

  20. Nadia says:

    Hi guys ,
    This is not the only school with this matter …

  21. Sumaiya says:

    Mark has the school responded?

  22. lolguy says:

    Boo hoo.
    There is discrimination on every level practiced all the way from the top. Different pay packages are offered based on the color of your passport, you are treated differently based on your nationality etc etc. The only reason this incident is probably highlighted is because it has a religious angle to it.

    Either suck it up or leave, isn’t that the common refrain?

  23. Mohamed says:

    Oh my God, the size of the shitstorm this issue is causing for all the wrong reasons. I can’t believe the majority of comments here!
    It has nothing to do with Islam, hijab, niqab, and there’s not need for this to turn into some mindless discussion between mindless religious nuts and equally mindless monkeys on the atheism spectrum. F******k!!!

    It’s a simple matter, when I was in school back in the mid-90s our teachers were white Brits and the parents liked that because regardless of the syllabus/knowledge they were culturally British. Nowadays schools say they have Brits/Canadians/Aussies/Kiwis whatever but it’s mainly browns and Arabs (passport but not culture). That’s why parents are having doubts. Don’t anyone dare throw the racism card at me, you can just shove it back where the sun don’t shine, I’m merely highlighting the root cause.

    Now the school management, idiots that they are in their infinite wisdom, not knowing how to tell the poor applicant that we’re looking for white Brits, decided to reach a compromise that they thought would make it acceptable for both the applicant and the parents. They made it about that dreaded piece of cloth on her head. Did they not think that even if she took off her headscarf that when parents visited they would still see her non-white race?!

    It’s so irritating reading all the comments going on about religious freedom and freedom to be non-religious and laws and utter crap. Look at the real reason.

    • Crumble says:

      Its also not just about culture, but about accent. Faiza here might be fluent in Oxford English, and might equally have a horrifically thick Indian accent.

      • Mohamed says:

        Exactly! And there’s nothing racist about that. If I were putting my kids at school starting at 3,000 KD per kid I wouldn’t want them picking up an accent (indian or otherwise) or learning that being a few minutes late is fine or learning that it’s ok to have a conversation with your colleagues 30 meters down the hallway as if we’re in an open market.
        I couldn’t care less if my kid’s teacher was a white woman in a headscarf or not, as long as she teaches them how to be good citizens. I also wouldn’t care if the teacher was non-white if she had been brought up in that culture. Going back a few comments to Noorah above:
        “… but after they got talking to me and heard my accent and listened to what I had to say, they quickly were put at ease.”
        That’s not an issue of a headscarf and abaya, the parents felt that this lady was a cultural fit. It doesn’t matter what passport you carry or what your color is as long as I see that you have the skills and knowledge to handle young minds soaking up values before knowledge.

        • Noorah says:

          Mohammed, it IS racism and I’m amazed that you can’t see it.

          I am originally British. I have a British education and a very good degree from one of the top universities in the UK. I am also a Muslim and mixed race and easily pass as Kuwaiti because of the style of my hijab. Due to this, parents often assume that I AM Kuwaiti and are initially surprised to discover that a “Kuwaiti” is their child’s English teacher. However, when they get talking to me they realise that I am not actually Kuwaiti and the way that I choose to dress doesn’t bother them in the slightest. They have never had a problem with my hijab or me being their child’s English teacher. Not because I am a “cultural fit” but because they recognise that I’m capable of doing the job!

          Given the above, it IS racist/Islamophobic to simply assume that a woman in hijab is going to be less qualified than a woman not in hijab. Just as it IS racist to assume that she will be more likely to “have an accent” or “be a few minutes late” or “hold a conversation 30 metres down the hall”!!!

          It IS racist to deny an applicant a fair chance of employment simply on the basis of her religious attire. That is a fact.

          Frankly, if you value a crisp British accent and a trendy haircut over having the most qualified candidate teach your child (after having gone through a fair, open, just selection process) then perhaps you need to define “value” for me because we obviously understand it to mean different things.

          Lastly, I hate to break it to you, but if having an “accent” or “being a few minutes late” are the worst habits you think your English teachers may impart to your kids, then you obviously don’t know what some English teachers out here get up to (inside and outside school)! Smh.

          • Disgusted says:

            I totally agree with you Noorah!

            Funny thing is that these so called “white” teachers here in Kuwait that these poor Kuwaiti parents are so obsessed with are the same ones insulting their kids, Name calling their children and their abilities. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. So keep obsessing over the “look” but I’ve seen more “white teachers” treat these poor Arab kids like crap and they take advantage of the fact that these families are obsessed with having them here as teachers. Wake up Kuwait!!

            • yao says:

              touche again! the argument that white teachers are…but this is a deeper issue of white supremacy as a whole. Non white people glorify their oppressor and will do anything for their acceptance. Essentially those type of teachers are playing the shit out of Kuwaitis. I mean they are running old school game and many fall for it. And that “look” they obsess over hates their children!

              The accent argument is garbage at best and serves as an excuse to continue pumping thousands into some of these schools. Parents always ask me I want my child to have an American accent, I tell them, take them to America and lived there!!!! I tell them at some of the biggest universities in America you have professors that are Indian African and and Arab and they can barely speak English. But we could care less cause we am trying to get some of the knowledge the have.
              Unfortunately they will not wake up. That is the beauty of the American dream, you’ve be asleep to believe it. And we americans specialize in grade A bullshit that will have you hating your own values as you mimic ours values, that we ourselves dont even believe in!!!!!

              Lot of silly rabbits here.

          • Mohamed says:

            Noorah, you need to go back and read what I wrote and try to understand what I was saying. You’re basically repeating what I said in different words.
            When I say nobody play the racist card, I’m speaking about myself for the use of the words “browns”, “Aussies” and “Kiwis”. The school is racist, YES. I’m not saying otherwise and I’m certainly not justifying it. Again, go back to the original comment.
            As for the bad habits you’re discussing, I spent all my school years in an amazing school in Kuwait where the teachers did whatever they wanted in and out of school but that was either in the teacher’s lounge where no students were allowed or in the privacy of their homes. If you’re speaking about bad habits in front of students then that issue deserves a whole different post altogether. I am speaking about the innocent 90s, not about the sub-human trash being recruited nowadays and I am well aware of the issues you’re speaking about because I used to hear those horror stories years after I graduated. Schools today are nothing like what I graduated from.
            Thanks for understanding.

        • Samuel says:

          I pity your child.

      • ifti says:

        Crumble – I’ve followed some of your bigotted posts throughout this conversation. Man, it must be tough for a nobo like you to be living/working here in Kuwait. I wonder what’s made you so bitter and twisted? Get a life

    • yao says:

      racism card hurled. “but it’s mainly browns and Arabs”….haha…but I am sure your not a racist. FOH. Parents liked it because they where white!!!! “browns” as you say have been in England for centuries and they too are culturally British. Islam has a lot to do with it. Many of your glorified white women who are muslims are asked to remove the hijab as well. As muslims, we are global ambassadors of the religion, not white supremacy.

      Bottom line: like most “browns” cultures, Kuwait practices what their colonial masters did, racism. White is right. Its alright to say that if that’s what you believe in. Why do they, its a mental thing that most “browns” suffer from. Just own it. That is the real reason.

      It would be better to just say that.

    • Trojan_Troy says:

      Wow, You hit the Nail-On-the_Head!

      Perfect!

  24. ManoftheMoment says:

    I know, as an absolute fact, that the Head Teacher of a very well known International School, with a very good reputation, would routinely look at applicants photos from their CV and reject those who were ‘Indian’ or ‘Asian’ looking regardless of whether they were British or not.

    Their excuse was that Kuwait is a racist country and they only like being taught by white teachers hence it would create more problems than it solved.

    Entrenched racism is quite endemic within the expat teaching profession, particularly at the management level.

    • Crumble says:

      Only at the good schools that keep standards. Many of the new ‘international’ schools will hire anyone.

      • ManoftheMoment says:

        You been racist all of your life or is it something you do just to troll the forums?

        FYI rejecting people on the basis of how they look on a photo is racist, non British and to be despised, not admired as you seem to think.

        • Crumble says:

          Then send your kids to the Indian school. They teach in English, and their curriculum is well designed, huge, and expansive. No one can credibly say that there is anything wrong academically with an Indian school. I also suggest Faiza apply there if she actually has enough qualifications and can compete with the many many other talented qualified applicants.

          • ManofTheMoment says:

            and how do you know I don’t? More racist BS

            • Crumble says:

              Yeah, because saying nothing but great things about Indian education makes me a racist. Go fúck yourself.

              • ManoftheMoment says:

                Wow. You are such a dick.

                The racist bullshit was for YOU to make the assumption that I don’t already send my kids to a major Indian school. I totally agree that the Indian school has extremely high standards.

  25. Samer says:

    “I say waiiiit a minute, what is this monkey business?! This teacher is wearing a hijab! Teachers in Saved by the Bell didn’t wear hijabs! I know western culture inside out because I watched KTV2 as child.. nope nope nope.. Im enrolling 7ammoodi elsewhere. Good day!”

  26. Joseph says:

    I disagree with this. bot on the other hand there are schools that requires the teacher to wear Hijab to accept her.
    I would understand the argument if someone said that this could be an Islamic school, but there will always be the opposite of everything.
    Some schools are strict about wearing hijab means that other schools will be strict about not wearing hijab.
    The ministry of education or social affairs or whoever should make law to either accept both situations or prohibit both.

  27. yao says:

    This is not uncommon in Kuwait and most GCC countries for that matter. A few sad and ironic points:
    Western muslims coming to Kuwait to teach and practice Islam come to learn that most employers can care less about Islamic values.
    As western muslim, the irony of coming to work in a muslim country and be told not to wear an hijab is beyond shocking. Many of us come here looking to improve on our deen. We learn quickly that Islam is just a four letter world

    The amount of comments defending the school’s action is even more shocking. In many western countries this person would be able to sue their employer on the basis of religious discrimination. Those defenders are not surprising, just slaves doing their masters’ bidding.

    This should really be a non debate, if one is muslim, and woman, how could tell your sister don’t wear hijab to work! You are essentially making what Allah made halal, haram. Dangerous waters. Many tend to backstroke in these waters.

    The real issue is money and perception, albeit false. Teaching in most cases here is about perception. I’ve encountered countless unprofessional teachers from western countries teaching here because it sells a narrative that schools want and parents want to see. The teacher can be dumber than a second coat of paint, as long as their western, hayak!

    These teachers wouldn’t be able to get a gig in their home country based on qualifications alone. Yet in the GCC, the red carpet is laid out for them. How silly many are here to be so gungho for a culture that doesn’t and never will embrace them to the point that they things the culture their trying to mimic wouldn’t even do!

    In the end the children, are the ones who lose.

  28. TheGreatest says:

    Having graduated from two of the best schools in Kuwait first for my o levels,and then the American high school the fact is Kuwaiti parents are not like expat parents. Their way of taking interest in their childrens education is that of an elitest outlook. The concept of indentured servitude is alive in these parents minds so it seeps down to their kids. Felt sorry for most of my Kuwaiti class mates because they have no identity and Kuwait is a stepping platform for a better life now. Back to the school almost all my teachers who were white and blue eyed had dirty skin so I would not let them near me. When I found out that they would not clean after themselves with water and used toilet paper I was disgusted(I witnessed the new teachers discuss this in great detail) and to this day im still apprehensive going abroad or working with westerners. Now you be the judge. Is hygiene and the disrespect I felt as a student from white teachers equally bad to someone covering her face. I say no but anyone who covers her face should not be teaching. Hijab should be allowed.

  29. Khuzam says:

    By the way Kuwait Airways prohibit Air hostesses from wearing hijab. And no one saying anything about it.

    • Crumble says:

      And Saudi Arabia and Iran force every single woman to wear it if she is outside of her house. No one is really saying anything about it either.

      • Noorah says:

        Again, check your facts Crumble. I lived in Saudi in a British compound. Many of the women didn’t wear hijab. Many of them were even driving freely in the compounds in Saudi arabia. We (Brits/ other expats) had free access to private beaches where the expat women frequently went TOPLESS – with no regard to laws of the land or children present or the locals.

      • Khuzam says:

        I can post you links from people around the world talking about forcing females to wear hijab. But can you post a link about kuwait airways prohibit air hostesses to wear hijab !? I don’t think so.

  30. Mrs Ali says:

    Unfortunately I’m not surprised to hear about this kind of discrimination as I came across something similar. I was also told by my husband’s employer that in order to work at their very well know British school, I could work as a teacher, but without my hijab. Apparently the parents expect a certain image of Britishness, that comes without any religious attire. What a load of BS! To matters worse,they said I could keep my hijab on as a Teaching Assistant, but not as a Teacher!
    I ended up working at a much better English School, where it is predominantly run by British staff, and not once was my hijab brought into question.

    I think certain institutions like the very popular English nursery mentioned in this article, need a wake up call. The hijab covering in no way hinders teaching quality, but if your customers are so narrow minded to think this, then maybe you need to rethink who your customers are, as with parents like this, the children will grow to be narrow minded too- vicious cycle!

    So far I have worked in 2 very reputable English Schools where my hijab has not been raised as an issue alhamdulilah.

  31. Ad says:

    I’m surprised that so many people are shocked by this. A lot of people worldover are racist and more so in Kuwait. A blonde with blue eyes can get away with a lot of things in this country as opposed to an Asian woman.
    If you’re paying top dollar for private British education you want the whole “western experience” else you could just save 3000kd or how much ever and send them to a English nom western school.

    And, law of the land doesn’t exist. Kuwait’s underground club and party scene is booming and alcohol and drugs can be arranged with a few phone calls. Rules are either for show or only applicable to the “sheep” the rich and powerful do what they want and they are exactly he kind of people who either own that school or send their kids there.

  32. Purple says:

    Some British/international schools in Kuwait even the most well known ones are corrupt AF… Including the most prominent ones

  33. Meh says:

    Girls and teachers in “Al-Ruyya” school must wear a hijab, whether they wear it outside of school or not. If not, the girls must leave the school and enroll at another. I see no one poking at their direction, eh?

    I’m a Kuwaiti abroad and I do not want a teacher that wears either an apostolnik, a kipa or a hijab teaching my kid if I choose NOT to enroll him/her at a “RELIGIOUSLY AFFILIATED” school.

    • 3azeez says:

      A typical Kuwaiti abroad.

      I can understand not wanting your kids studying in a religious school… but how can you not be accepting of different people beliefs?! Being liberal does not mean being racist towards others. I don’t care what the teacher believe as long the school has clear direction that I accept.

  34. Gorgeous George says:

    Discrimination everywhere, even in British schools!..

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-england-birmingham-41609861

  35. Vgirl says:

    I was not allowed to apply for a bilingual school in kuwait as I DID not wear a hijab. This is clearly both ways and needs to be looked into.

  36. Melanie says:

    Kuwait Airlines also have dress code so why no one is making so huh n cry over hijab n burkhas, cos work and culture is not mixed. But this sympathy seeking person though would invoke religion? What a trouble maker.

  37. Omar says:

    Mark,

    Why did you remove the name of the school? This kind of behavior should be shamed. A boycott to the school and staff should be done unless serious action is PUBLICLY done.

    This kind of thing doesn’t even happen in developed countries…

  38. abdulla says:

    i just found out the identity of the school and almost pissed myself laughing…..the owner divorced his british wife back in the day – she left after his womanizing – after she had built up the “british” playgroup he replaced all the british teachers with philipinos who were – uhm – well paid…..typical bull from a typical womanizer – hugh hefner would have approved

  39. 3azeez says:

    There is no shortage of qualified people to be hired. Why ask someone to remove their hijab? Simply ignore their application and jump to the next applicant.

    this whole thing is dumb.

    • 3azeez says:

      Was on Twitter earlier and saw so many tweets about her.

      What makes no sense is how could she even be considered for a job in Kuwait as a teacher. She’s 23 years old (almost no work experience) and she’s not even English-woman. Yes she might have British citizenship but didn’t look anywhere near English.

      I don’t think our kids will benefit from learning the ‘haitch’.

  40. Munawar Ebrahim says:

    For all the tongue is cheek comments degrading people of different colour, race, style of dressing up, academic qualifications etc and the works…I wonder, this applicant could have got truck loads of money by taking this school to court in most of the Western countries considering the fact how most of the governments and organizations are gunning for being an EOE(Equal Opp Employer). Agreed, that parents shelling out a bomb of cash towards tuition fees in the reputed schools have the right to know the caliber of the teaching staff…which includes ‘accent’ of the teacher as well…but that should end there…as long as the teacher fits the bill..and dresses modestly to work…it shouldn’t be something to loose your sleep over if the teacher dresses up with a Hijab.

    @Noorah…there’s a line which sums up the whole fiasco..

    “And do not walk upon the earth with insolence. Indeed, you will never tear the earth , and you will never reach the mountains in height”

  41. NQ says:

    We should all be naked.
    Except when its cold.

  42. Trojan_Troy says:

    “our Kuwaiti parents like British Teachers but not wearing hijab” Visual assumptions are the norm since I have been in Kuwait starting mid 2009.

    I have been assumed an Arabic speaker because I am black and had a beard styled like what I assumed is considered typical Arabic speakers. I have since then tried to stay clean shaven but that still doesn’t seem to stop the assumptions.

    I feel for this teacher who was attracted to this job in a Mostly Muslim based country. The perception of the Best or being of wealth comes from the Western, Non-Muslim & English speaking countries whom mostly frown on wearing the hijab outside in the public eye.

    The schools rep for hiring English/British teachers clashes with the idea that you can Be English/British & fully observe Muslim customs or be from a Mostly English speaking country. So these parents go out of there way to give their children the simulation of being taught in Western English/British school that has no hijab wearing teachers.

    It seems this school is a private school and this form of hiring makes sense to drive home the idea the children are getting the Full English/British taught experience without having to leave the safety of their home country Kuwait.

    This is not about being discriminatory but SELLING the English school EXPERIENCE to children and the parents enrolling them.

  43. Just says:

    I can just imagine all the chaos at the HR section in that school now. All the finger pointing and that poor HR executive being blamed. You can be sure a memo was circulated “With immediate effect, no more written emails about hijabs. In fact, don’t even mention hijab verbally. You know what, don’t interview anyone with a hijab.”


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