Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Shabina Begum gets told off by the Lords.

UK: This is good stuff as the Lords as plain as they can get tells off everyone who thought this nonsense should have gotten her the right to be a pain to everyone else.

Cherie Booth, QC, for Shabina, had argued that the school's actions had deprived the girl of the right to manifest her religion under Article Nine of the Human Rights Convention. But, Lord Hoffmann said yesterday: "Article Nine does not require that one should be allowed to manifest one's religion at any time and place of one's own choosing. Common civility also has a place in the religious life." Shabina could have changed schools when she discovered that the uniform she had worn for the past two years created a problem for her. "That might not have been entirely convenient for her, particularly when her sister was remaining at Denbigh High, but people sometimes have to suffer some inconvenience for their beliefs," Lord Hoffmann said. "Instead, she and her brother decided that it was the school's problem. They sought a confrontation and claimed that she had a right to attend the school of her own choosing in the clothes she chose to wear." Lady Hale pointed out that the school had respected cultural and religious diversity by allowing girls to wear a skirt, trousers, or the shalwar kameez, with or without a headscarf. This was a "thoughtful and proportionate response", as shown by the fact that girls were worried that they would come under pressure to wear the jilbab if it had been permitted. The law lords also dismissed the second of Miss Booth's arguments - that Shabina had been denied the right to education, guaranteed by Article Two of the first protocol, or supplement, to the Human Rights Convention. "That article confers no right to go to any particular school," said Lord Hoffmann. "It is infringed only if the claimant is unable to obtain education from the system as a whole." The law lords agreed that the two-year interruption in Shabina's education was the result of "her failure to secure prompt admission to another school where her religious convictions could be accommodated".

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