Following his much published intervention on the issue of a pupil at local primary school being prohibited from wearing an Islamic hijab headscarf, Birmingham City Council’s Councillor Waseem Zaffar has resigned from his cabinet post. The resignation of Cllr Zaffar, Labour councillor for Lozells and East Handsworth, shortly after the news of the departure of Council chief executive, Mark Rogers.

The resignation by Waseem Zaffar follows the intervention of Dame Louise Casey, the Government’s ‘Integration Tsar,’ following the school uniform row. She wrote to City Council leader Cllr Clancy about the behaviour of his cabinet member for transparency, openness and equality. The pupil, at St Clare’s Catholic Primary School, turned out to be a relative of Cllr Zaffar, who, on his original Facebook intervention, did not make it publicly clear that the pupil was a relative, although he says he informed the school of the link.

This latest controversy within the Council follows the continuing Government unrest about the aftermath of the ‘Trojan Horse’ crisis and issues of integration and community cohesion – in Birmingham in particular and the UK at large. This is the latest set-back for John Clancy, the Labour leader of Birmingham City Council, who has seen the resignation of two of his closest political allies- Zaffar and Rogers. In her letter to Cllr Clancy, Dame Louise pointed out that there is no religious requirement for a four-year-old to wear the scarf and the school was within its rights to ban the headwear.

Former Cabinet Member for Transparency, Openness and Equality, Cllr Zaffar said: “Birmingham is my city and I feel privileged to have served as a cabinet member on my council. But after careful consideration and in light of continued media and social media speculation, I have discussed the situation with the leader of the council and I have decided I will step aside from my cabinet role with immediate effect.”

The former Cabinet member indicated the hijab ban was in contravention of the Equalities Act and that the school should amend its policy. Cllr John Clancy said: “I want to thank Waseem for his service to the city as a cabinet member. While this has been a difficult decision for him I fully understand why he is stepping aside at this time.”