THE woman at the centre of the Muslim veil row in Dewsbury says she did nothing wrong.
Classroom support worker Aishah Azmi denied education chiefs' claims that she refused to remove her veil (niqab) for her pupils.
Mrs Azmi said she only insisted on covering her face for male teachers working alongside her at Headfield C of E Junior School in Thornhill Lees.
She said: "This is not about whether or not I wear my veil in front of the children. They are before puberty, so there is no problem with them seeing me unveiled.
"My first question when I came to the school was: 'Can I work with a female member of staff and, if not, can I wear my veil?'
"I was told I could wear it so long as it didn't stop me carrying out my job."
Mrs Azmi, 24, of Headfield View, Thornhill Lees, had been a classroom support assistant with 11-year-olds at the school since last September.
She was suspended in February.
She has taken Kirklees Council to an employment tribunal, which will rule on her case in a fortnight.
Mrs Azmi added: "When I was with a female teacher I taught quite happily at the school without my veil on.
"I was also quite happy not to wear it when I was on playground or library duty, as I knew there would be no male members of staff around.
"The only thing I insisted on was that I was allowed to wear it when I was with a male colleague, as my religion clearly says that."
Mrs Azmi, who is married to a doctor and has a two-year-old daughter, denied claims that pupils found her hard to understand while wearing the niqab. She said: "Just because you cannot see someone's lips doesn't mean you can't learn."
She added: "I was approached by the headmaster and told I had to remove my veil and that I basically had very little choice about it.
"It's not true that there had been complaints. The kids are mostly Muslim anyway and most of their mothers wear the veil. So they would never, ever have a problem."
Mrs Azmi said she had taken sick leave because of the stress.
"I felt I was under a lot of pressure to take it off or resign. No alternative was offered.
"I was told disciplinary action was inevitable."
"The veil gives me a lot of self-respect and self dignity.
"I can express anything I like, how I like, without any chance of distortion."
Kirklees Council's stance has been backed by the councillor responsible for children's services, Clr Jim Dodds, and by Dewsbury's MP, Shahid Malik, a Muslim.