A major British store department has signed a new agreement with two major Islamic schools for girls to sell their school uniform including a headscarf, or hijab, for the first time.
“We provide uniforms for 350 schools across the country,” a spokesperson of giant retailer John Lewis told MailOnline.
“The school informs us of the items they want to sell as part of their uniform list.”
The veil, worn by Muslim women, is to be sold in the company’s stores in London and Liverpool after it signed contracts with two schools.
One of the two schools is the Islamia Girls’ School in northwest London which was set up in 1983 by Yusuf Islam, better known as the singer Cat Stevens before his reversion to Islam in 1977.
The Belvedere Academy in Liverpool was founded 130 years ago and is a non-denominational school for girls.
It was the first school in the UK to become an independent academy in 2007. It was recently judged by Ofsted, the UK schools watchdog, as “outstanding”.
The fact that a mainstream, upmarket UK retailer such as John Lewis has started to supply the hijab will likely be welcomed by Muslim parents who until now have relied on specialist shops.
Britain is home of a Muslim community of nearly 2.7 million.
There are 400,000 Muslim students in British schools, according to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
About 7,000 state schools in Britain are faith schools – roughly one in three of the total – educating 1.7 million pupils.
Hijab is an obligatory code of dress for Muslim women, not a symbol that shows ones religious affiliation.
The headscarf came to the spotlight after France banned the Muslim outfit in schools in 2004. Several European countries followed the French suit.
Last year the former Liberal Democrat Home Office minister, Jeremy Browne, called for a debate on if women and girls should be banned from wearing the veil in public places as is the case in France.
Most Muslim leaders in the UK rejected his remarks, with Mohammed Shafiq of the Ramadan foundation saying “whatever one’s religion they should be free to practice it according to their own choices.”