Monday, December 20, 2004

UK: Cherie Booth, PM Tony Blair's wife, has taken on the case of Shabina Begum who wants to wear a "traditional" robe called the jilbab that covers from head to toe to a school that has a uniform code. "....Ms Begum, whose father and mother are both dead, attended the "highly successful" 1,000-pupil Denbigh High School in Luton, Beds, where 79 per cent of students are Muslims, from the age of 12. At first she consented to wear the authorised school uniform of shalwar kameez - tunic and trousers - but in September 2002, she and her brother, Shuweb Rahman, informed the assistant headteacher Stuart Moore that she would wear it no longer, preferring instead to wear a full length robe and headscarf. She was sent home from school. She applied to court for a judicial review of the school's decision on human rights grounds. Six months ago, High Court judge Mr Justice Bennett dismissed the girl’s case, ruling that she had failed to show that the school had excluded her or breached her human rights. He said in his ruling that the school was entitled to limit Muslim students to wearing the shalwar kameez. The High Court judge added that Ms Begum chose not to return to Denbigh, knowing that her refusal to wear the shalwar kameez meant she was unlikely to be allowed to attend. She has received little formal education for two years. " Here is the argument that Begum and Cherie Booth are pushing. " Miss Booth said the jilbab was not considered to be an extreme form of dress code observance, but was recognised by many Muslims as a requirement for their religion. She said: "The question of modestly dressed females is not a quirky culture thing, it is recognised as a genuine manifestation of religious belief."" Here is my take on this, Begum is a little drama queen and Cherie needs to go whine about the death penalty. The jilbab is a cultural answer to an interpretation of a religious statement(Quran 24:31). It's not a requirement in the Quran spelled out in detail. Queen Rania Al- Abdullah of Jordan "fisked" this argument in an email to the Arab Times in 2001. Another case in New Zealand where a woman refused to remove her veil because she said it was against Islam was dismissed by a Muslim MP. "....Labour MP Ashraf Choudhary, New Zealand's first Muslim MP, today said that face covering was a cultural rather than religious issue. Muslim men and women had to dress modestly. "For both men and women, clothing requirements are not meant to be a restriction but rather a way in which a society will function in a proper manner and environment," he said in a statement. "Migrants and refugees, irrespective of their religious or cultural background, who have made New Zealand their home must integrate in the society to achieve their full potential. "While New Zealand is a secular state and does not discriminate on race, religion or ethnicity and protects human rights of all religious and ethnic minorities, this is not a country for extremists or extremist views," he said. Some conservative Muslims believed otherwise but most educated and learned people were of the opinion that face covering of women was not required, he said. " So if there is any common sense by this new judge, this case brought on by Begum will be tossed out.

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