Schools that try to ban hijabs or fasting will receive government support if they face a backlash, a minister has pledged.
Lord Agnew of Oulton, the schools minister, says that he will help head teachers to make difficult and "sensitive" decisions if they come up against opposition.
Writing for The Times, he criticised parents, local residents and religious leaders who "intimidate and bully" schools when they disagree with the head teacher. He said that "a culture of fear and intimidation must not be allowed to pass through the school gates".
He gave his personal backing to Neena Lall, head of St Stephen's primary in east London which tried to ban girls under eight from wearing the hijab. The school capitulated to opposition and removed the ban last month.