View Full Version : Religious Freedom in schools

06-20-2004, 04:18 PM
This is a topic which has sparked fierce debate all over Europe.

In France a very secualr country where the "Republique" is seperate from the "church/clergy",
Religion as a whole, unless taught during humanities lessons, is kept out of all classrooms.

Of course this means that any ostentacious religious symbols such as the Cross, the bhindhi, Turban, the Jewish Skull cap or the Moslem scarf is not allowed to be worn in schools by Pupils and teachers.

now UK too has it's problem with religious freedom.
A country which prides on having ppl of different ethnic and religious background living together in harmony, has been in the news for having "denied a Moslem girl the freedom to wear the Jilbab".

Schoolgirl loses Muslim gown case
A 15-year-old girl has lost her High Court battle to wear a style of Islamic dress to school.
Shabina Begum has been out of her Luton school since September 2002 in a row over her wish to wear an ankle-length jilbab gown.

She said her religious rights and education were being denied.

But the High Court judge said the school's uniform policy was aimed at the proper running of a multi-cultural, multi-faith secular school.

Dismissing Shabina's application for judicial review, Mr Justice Bennett said the limitations placed on what she could wear was "proportionate" to that aim, and her human rights had not been infringed.

It seems unrealistic and artificial to say that the claimant's right to education has been denied
Mr Justice Bennett

Guidance for schools discouraged them from excluding pupils for breaching school uniform policy, he noted.

But that did not mean schools could not do so "if the pupil flatly refuses to wear the appropriate school uniform", he said.

Outside court, the school's solicitor Iqbal Javed said the uniform had been agreed after wide consultation and the focus would now be on readmitting Shabina to school.

"The uniform is designed to be inclusive and takes into account the cultural and sensitive needs of the pupils," he said.

The whole point of a school uniform is to be 'uniform'
Richard King, Woburn

Shabina's lawyer Yvonne Spencer said her client was devastated and would not be returning to Denbigh school.

"The family feels this decision doesn't help integrate Muslims within our society," she said.

The judge has refused permission to appeal, but Shabina can still ask the Court of Appeal to hear the case on the basis that it raises issues of general importance over the question of dress in multi-cultural schools.

The family would consider this, her lawyer said.

Human rights claim

Denbigh is a 1,000-pupil comprehensive where almost 80% of pupils are Muslim.

The case echoes controversy in France, where politicians have voted for a ban on religious symbols in schools, including the hijab, the headscarf worn by Muslim girls and women.

Ms Spencer had argued the school's ban on her chosen dress amounted to "constructive exclusion" and breached both domestic law and the European Convention on Human Rights.

But the school argued an alternative uniform option for Muslim girls was on offer, while the jilbab could divide Muslim pupils and presented a health and safety problem.

Opinion divided

Originally, Shabina wore a shalwar kameez to school, but her deepening interest in her religion led to her wearing the jilbab.

The long gown is worn by some Muslim women who seek to cover their arms and legs, but not faces or hands.

The judge said: "In my judgment, the adoption of the shalwar kameez by the defendant as school uniform for Muslim (and other faiths) female pupils was, and continues to be, a reasoned, balanced, proportionate policy."

Abdul Bari, deputy leader of the Muslim Council of Britain said the High Court's "landmark decision" was "very worrying and objectionable".

"The British Muslim community is a diverse community in terms of the interpretation and understanding of their faith and its practice," said Dr Bari.

"Within this broad spectrum those that believe and choose to wear the jilbab and consider it to be part of their faith requirement for modest attire should be respected.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/06/15 16:18:49 GMT


What do you think?

bear in mind that British schools have a Uniform.

Should children be allowed to wear religious symbols? Should Shabina Begum have been allowed to wear the hijab?


06-20-2004, 04:30 PM

We are getting caught in the quagmire of religious freedom often. It is a much debated topic in many countries. I will pull out my native place's example. I come from a small town in Tamilnadu where girls predominantly wore half sarees. The school said, students have to wear uniform and no half sarees. They also had a religeous morning prayer. Believe me, none of the parents in the vicinity opposed to it. They saw the reasoning and accepted it. Even if prayer is for a different religion, none opposed it, saying "It is praying God. What difference does it make?" It is all a question of tolerance. Giving reason that we cannot mingle with mainstream if we dont get special treatment is crap.

I for one staunchly support equality in the eyes of law. School is a place for education and not a place to show your ethnic identity by way of special treatment. If the school does not have any uniform, they have the liberty. When the schools have uniforms with a purpose, it has to be honoured even at the cost of ethnic identity.

There was a similar case in the US too where a muslim girl filed for driving license with a photo of her with the veil. Only her eyes were visible. She gave the reason that it is against her religeon to remove the veil. The judge dismissed the petition saying license is for identity and cannot be compromised. Religeous freedom as long as it does not conflict with the published laws of the state it is ok. When there is a conflict, religion should take a back seat. That is my stance.


06-20-2004, 04:34 PM
I think that girl is an utter prat!! :evil:

did you kmow that school because of its Moslem majority has a Shalwar Kameez Uniform?

Well her modesty was being protected!

so I simply think she is a right prat....not gonna be politically correct abt it :snooty:



06-23-2004, 04:47 PM
Sorry abt the previous post ...so not mature of me :oops:

I hold the view that religion should be kept out of schools, unless they are taught as part of the national curiculum of the country. If religion is taught, then I strongly support the teaching of all 6 major world religion to be taught to an equal level.

Secularism or the seperation of state form the clergy is something that I support categorically in multicultural societies.

Hence when the French Govt passed the law to completely bann all ostentacious religious symbols from schools I supportedit wholeheartedly.
Perhaps that was inconsiderate of me...

In the name of religion, we are experiencing many conflicts and hate. I thik that children should definitely be taught to respect all faiths equally and to understand that all humans are equal.
In fact instead of religion if they taught how to be a good citizen and how to respect each and every person, and may be make them learn by heart the Universal declaration of Human rights ...then maybe we shall have a better world ...

Children are like plasticine ...you can mold them to accept any views...so it is doubly important to teach them early in life to respect all religions and human beings equally.

In British schools we have a very strict uniform code.
They come in disgusting colours ranging from grey to bottle green.....and yes you get put off by the colour for the rest of your life :ahha:

Moslem pupils and Sikh Pupils are able to wear the headscarf and the turban respectively, as long as it is in the schools colours.

In general British schools are more tolerant than their European counterparts, and actively encourage the practice of faith in general. Pupils receive Religious education as a compulsory part of their education.

In the case Mentioned by the BBC, that particular school having a majority of Moslem pupils has even changed it's uniform policy to include Shalwar Kameez in the school's colours.
The pupil in question took her schoo, to court on the basis of denial of education, simply because they asked to kindly stick to the prescribed school uniform, while she wanted to war the hijab.
now at the moment, you may be all aware al religions are undergoing extremist revival (Islam, Christianit, Sikhism, Hinduism, Judaism...), in such a time to allow a pupil of a mixed public all faith school to wear the hijab also will present many problems to her non-extremist classmates.

The other girls who do not wear the hijab , would be labelled bad Moslems and will be bullied by the rest.

Is it really necessary?

I wore a disgusting uniform throughout my school career. :evil:

I never complained to such an extent...I even had to wear a tie :evil: in freaking girl school ... :evil:

Children should learn to accept that rules are there for a reason. They shouldn't be broken a whim.
what Shabina Begum did is a lot worse than rolling up one's skirt so that it is above the required 2 inches below the knee
or wearing a the wrong shade of green blazer.

If she wanted to follow her religious belief so thoroughly...they are many other option open to her. She could have joined a Moslem school.
If I gone to a Moslem school I would have had to conform to the rules and regulations of that school...so why couldn't she conform to the basic ru8lesand regulations of a mutlicultuarl school?

I still think she was being arrogant...perhaps it is a case of teenageritis...who knows...

but I support the school in not allowing her to wear the Hijab.

I was not happy with my uniform...there were days when i wished I could wear my own clothes...and express my persoanlity through them....but it has not suppressed my personality nor my creativity simply because I wore a uniform five days a week. :Ksp:
It neither affected my religious faith...

I'll stop now. :oops:


06-23-2004, 05:05 PM

I too wore an uniform during my school days. Khaki and white. Fortunately my school did not force wearing a tie in those days. None of us complained. There was a purpose behind those rules, we always kept that ahead of our personal preferences. We had our days too.. On saturdays we can wear what ever we want and those days are normally much awaited and colorful.

I accept there is excessive assertion of one's religious faith these days. Especially in free societies, it is even considered fashionable to flaunt the religion. The girl could not have gone to court herself. She had her parents support. A lawyer's support. A community's support. That is a terrible thing to happen in a pluralistic society. While I am not against any one sporting their religeous symbols themselves, doing it in violation of a common civil code is objectionable.

People try to assert their religious identity only in free societies. A Hindu will think twice before asserting his identity in the middle east the way the girl did. If one cannot have a temple, so be it. So, it is a clear mis use of freedom enshrined on them by the free society to assert their religion.

It should be told in clear terms to such arrogant people that free societies cannot be taken for a ride by this kind of religious chauvinsm. The court set a good precedent. Hope that continues in all democratic countries, unlike India which went overboard to overturn a Supreme Court judgement to assert a particular religion by way of constitutional amendment.


06-23-2004, 05:16 PM
I agree with you Anainar, and yes, she alone did not take the school to court.

There is some irony in this.
:ahha: Usually, as pupils (don't know about others but in my weird school) we tried every possible trick available to try to wear as "little" uniform as possible. Here this young lady wants to cover herself from head to toe. and the teachers instead of being in seventh heaven are complaining... :ee:
okie that was rather silly....but you must see the funy part of it too :ahha:


PS: Anainar, I feel so much better after learning that your uniform was khaki :ee:
obvioulsy your school had an even "better" colour scheme than mine :ahha:

06-25-2004, 09:07 PM
just heard ...German courts have banned teachers from wearing Headscarf but not from wearing skullcaps or Crosses

this is despicable and a errible violation of their human rights!!

they should take them to the European courts!

If you want to be secular then you should be 100% so ...no bias should be shown!

me is soo mad...
(and France is to blame for all of this :snooty: silly Wiltord and Henry )


03-22-2006, 08:33 PM

03-23-2006, 12:15 PM
She would consult her lawyers about a potential appeal to the European courts, she said.

my personal opinion on this matter is:
"somebody should give her a good talking to and tell her to get on with her studies instead of making an idiot of herself and wasting all that time and TAXPAYERS MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Bet she's doing all this on legal aid :evil:
she wants to wear a jilbab or hijab, go to a religious school!

"I still don't see why I was told to go home from school when I was just practising my religion.
I don't know how it works in her family and culture, but in mine my parents send me to school to learn and study not to freaking practise a religion!!! :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

03-23-2006, 12:40 PM
Did you see the reaction from the other commenters? pathetic. Whats the point in a uniform then. More clothing or less clothing, it was meant to show equality (in the appearance sense).
We had a Muslim girl from Chennai study at our university, have never seen her with a hijab, she dresses like any other girl at school. That doesnt mean she gave up her religious beliefs or anything :Ksp:

03-23-2006, 12:43 PM
I am a Hindu and I studied in a christian school.More than going to temple, i used to go to church or chappal frequently (some times daily)..

During the prayer, we sing songs praising the Lord Jesus
As Anainar Said, it is a matter of tolerance and accepting the belief....

None of the parents never opposed to this...

I believe that my religion gets raised if i respect the other religion....

03-23-2006, 12:51 PM
We had a Muslim girl from Chennai study at our university, have never seen her with a hijab, she dresses like any other girl at school. That doesnt mean she gave up her religious beliefs or anything :Ksp:

alot of muslim girls never wear those and dress like others (some to an extreme) ... they r said to be not proper muslims ... ive got frens as such... n ive got frens who wears all the hijab n all ... n i also know girls who wear the hijab n smoke while hiding the cigarette underneath it :doh: :doh: :doh:

i agree with bluey.. wasting time money and everything... wanna study in that school.. follow the rules.. :evil:

03-23-2006, 01:58 PM
I believe that my religion gets raised if i respect the other religion....

:clap::clap::clap: well said katz......

As anainar and katz pointed out tolerence is the key here. I strongly feel tolerence level is gng down.........all over the world

03-23-2006, 03:01 PM
I strongly feel tolerence level is gng down.........all over the world

I dont feel so. I think education has increased the tolerance a bit. and morover i feel we get a lot of information these days every small event gets covered and this probably is a reflection of an extensive coverage :think:

03-23-2006, 03:10 PM
mm.. Good topic... cant wait to reply in the weekend. so my post here :)

I wore uniform my entire school career. Initially, green pinaform with tie (it was a convent- montford brothers) Then state schooling - with half saree. Many parents try to struggle hard to let their kids study in such good schools okvaa. Appo color and dress preference kodutha, avangalukku innum romba kashtam, pavam right.. Appove saturdays it used to be color, I have few friends paavam, they used to wear 3-4 dress alternately for the entire year.. birthday appo matum they might wear something new. ithu ellam as children, it might affect them a lot. so thats why uniform. I never complained about it.

About religion. I would like to have religious freedom. Yes, I have been in christian schooling and also hindu and Govt.

Govt schools, tamil thaai vanakkam matum thaan irukkum. Nothing more. atleast in my school. we have a moral science class, which taught us about God in general and moral stories. Thats it. nothing specific to any religion.

I always beleive that raising ur kid respecting ur religion should be the job of the parents. schools should be just knowledge-moral factory. ange poi nambalooda religious preferences kondu varathu thappu.

I am totallly against that univ in melmaruvathoor... because its amman trust fund, its ridiculous for all school and college students to wear red and red always :evil: :evil:


03-23-2006, 03:22 PM
I think education has increased the tolerance a bit

Some cases it is true; but chennai traffic shows education is not fully responsible for tolerence

03-23-2006, 03:32 PM
but chennai traffic shows education is not fully responsible for tolerence

I was focussing mainly towards religious tolerance. Chennai traffic doesnt just depend on tolerance alone, if traffic is not properly enforced it would be the same case anywhere else as well.
Teacher, I thought the red and red was just for lab alone :think:

03-23-2006, 03:38 PM
I was focussing mainly towards religious tolerance

Religious tolerence...yes what U say I totally agree...I feel like education has not helped directly rather it gave good employment and money for them so that people just enjoy and do not think about these religious things. Hence education has indirectly helped.

03-23-2006, 04:04 PM
how education has not helped directly rather it gave good employment and money for them so that people just enjoy and do not think about these religious things.

Not quite. Education and in turn the environment you study shape your personality, your thoughts, the way you carry yourself, the way you interact with people. In a way education does a lot more things than just teach from the book (ofcourse the reflection on you depends on a lot of other factors too), rather like teaching the first steps to deal the world outside.

Employment and money dont quite pull you off from religion.