U.K. Education Minister Blasts Hasidic Women Driving Ban

After Belz sect's rabbinic leaders says allowing women to drive violates 'the traditional rules of modesty,' Nicky Morgan announces plan to probe the sect's schools.

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U.K. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan blasted Friday a decision by the Hasidic Belz sect to bar children driven by their mothers from entering the community's schools, The Guardian reported Friday.

“This is completely unacceptable in modern Britain. If schools do not actively promote the principle of respect for other people they are breaching the independent school standards. Where we are made aware of such breaches we will investigate and take any necessary action to address the situation,” a statement given to The Guardian said.

The policy of not allowing students to come to school if their mothers drive came from the Belzer rebbe in Israel, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

Morgan, who also serves as minister for women and equalities in David Cameron's Conservative government, said the U.K.'s Department for Education will probe two of the sects' schools.

The two schools are located in Stamford Hill, north London. According to The Guardian, the decision has not yet be implemented, but is expected to take effect later this year.

Both male and female members of the Belz community were supportive of the ban, The Guardian said. One Hasid said, “I agree with the policy of women not driving. Hasidic women have never driven cars. No one is unhappy. Not one of my friends would let his wife drive.” The report claimed many women in the community expressed the same opinion. 

Britain’s Belz community is centered in north London, where it runs a day school for boys and a second school for girls.

London’s Daily Mail reported that the Belz sect is being accused by critics of “trying to turn their London community into Saudi Arabia.”

JTA contributed to this report