Muslim pupil loses out at high court over uniform

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 1,000 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 a 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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