Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Girl Loses Fight to Wear Full Muslim Veil in Class

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Girl Loses Fight to Wear Full Muslim Veil in Class

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL CHESTON

A GIRL aged 12 today lost her High Court battle to be allowed to wear a full Muslim veil at school.

The girl, known in court as X, had claimed her school's ban on wearing the niqab breached her right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Her three older sisters had gone to the same Buckinghamshire school and had been allowed to wear it, it was claimed.

Refusing the youngest sister a similar right was against the "principle of rationality", her lawyers argued.

But Mr Justice Silber rejected her claims that the ban breached the European Convention on Human Rights or that the school's change of policy in her case was "disproportionate".

His ruling comes as Britain's first Muslim peer, Lord Ahmed, described the veil as "a mark of separation, segregation and defiance of mainstream British culture" and said there was nothing in the Koran to support it.

The judge was also supported by the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, which stressed that not all Muslims agree with wearing the niqab.

She was told by the head teacher last September that wearing the veil, which covers all the face except the eyes, hindered communication and learning.

She has not attended the school since October and is receiving three and a half hours' tuition a week at home, compared withmore than 30 hours if she had been at school.

A grammar school has offered her a place and the chance to wear the niqab and the local authority is prepared to transport her on the 25-minute journey from home. The court heard that the parents had given no reason why they have not accepted this offer.

In his ruling, the judge said the school was entitled to refuse to let X wear the veil because of the difficulties of teaching her because they could not see her facial expressions; the importance of a uniform policy; the security at school and possible pressure on other girls to wear the veil if she succeeded.

About 120 of the school's 1,300-plus

pupils are Muslim and up to 60 of them wear the hijab headscarf, but X is the only pupil currently demanding the right to wear the full veil. …

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