Muslim girl loses school uniform fight

A Luton comprehensive school which banned a Muslim girl from
wearing an ankle length jilbab gown was not infringing her rights,
the High Court has ruled.

Fifteen-year-old Shabina Begum lost her case for a judicial review
into Denbigh School’s refusal to allow her to wear the jilbab
on health and safety grounds.

Four out of five of the school’s 1000 pupils are Muslims,
according to a BBC report. They are allowed to wear the traditional
Islamic headscarf, the hijab, and the trousers and tunic known as
shalwar kameez.

The judge, Mr Justice Bennett, said the school uniform policy had
the legitimate aim – “the proper running of a
multi-cultural, multi-faith secular school”.

He said, “Although it appears that there is a body of opinion
within the Muslim faith that only the jilbab meets the requirements
of its dress code, there is also a body of opinion that the shalwar
kameez does as well.”

Begum has not attended school since September 2002 because of the
dispute over uniform. A spokesman for the school is quoted by the
BBC as saying that the uniform was designed to be inclusive and
take into account the cultural needs of pupils.

The school was keen to reintegrate her as soon as possible, he
said, but Begum’s lawyer said she was devastated by the
ruling and would not be returning to the school.

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