Friday, March 24, 2006

Shabina Begum

Unquestionably the right decision from the Lords with relation to Shabina Begum. Press reaction has ranged from the idiosyncratic Boris to the staggeringly non-committal Jenny Colgan. As always in such matters, for a more thorough appraisal, Scott is indispensable.

One thing slightly irritated me about the coverage of the affair. The school was consitently presented as having 'refused to allow Begum to wear the jilbab'. Nonsense. Begum refused to wear school uniform. There were, rather alarmingly, local schools that do allow the jilbab, which must make sports day amusing, and the action by Begum and her Hizb-ut-Tahir brother was designed to bully the school into going back on its uniform policy.

The danger, obviously, was that this could spark a 'clothier than thou' row in school, with girls, or more probably their fathers or brother, competing to pile on the layers of modesty. Well, thanks to the Lords this has been averted, as well as setting a precedent that the mere fact of religious feeling is not enough to allow contravention of reasonable rules on matters like dress.

Had this gone the other way, the wider application could have been extremely alarming - because the principle would have been that rules need not apply to those of religious belief. What the hell the Court of Appeal though they were playing at beggars belief, unless it was just buck-passing on a truly dhimmi scale.

UPDATE: See also the P-G for a better analysis of the ruling itself.


Blogger The Pedant-General said...

There is a much more important principle upheld by the Noble Lords: that the Head and Governors of a School have a right to set the rules for their institution and insist that they are followed and, probably more importantly, that they are very obviously best placed to do so.

Thanks for the link. I fear my contribution is merely a "cut and paste" job by comparison.

Toodle Pip!

7:57 pm  

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