Press Release: Begum Ruling Disappointing

Islamic Human Rights Commission

22 March 2006

Press Release: Begum Ruling Disappointing but not Surprising

The Islamic Human Rights Commission is very disappointed by the House of Lords ruling upholding Denbigh High School’s decision to prevent schoolgirl Shabina Begum from wearing the Islamic jilbaab.

It is indicative of the level of Islamophobia in British society and institutions that a school’s denial of a pupil’s right to education is upheld by the highest court in the land. Current race relations law would have rightly made it impossible for the same school or any school to prevent a Sikh or Jewish child to be prevented from wearing religious attire to school. This shows once more that there is neither equality between citizens, or equality between religious minorities in the UK.

IHRC notes that the school’s decision to allow the shalwar kameez and prohibit the jilbaab shows a very shallow understanding of the diversity of religious interpretation within the Muslim community. Many Muslim scholars have ruled that the wearing of the jilbaab is compulsory. Additionally, the enforcement of dress that is specific to different cultures, in this case the shalwar kameez, also violates the rights of those who are not brought up within cultures that advocate that type of dress.

IHRC Chair Massoud Shadjareh stated:

“That children can be denied an education because of their religious beliefs is indicative of the fact that religious and cultural freedom in Britain today is nothing but a fallacy.”

For more information please contact (+44) 20 8904 4222, or (44) 7958 522196 or[ ENDS ]

Notes for Editors

1. IHRC’s recent report in the British Muslims’ Expectations of the Government series dealt with the issue of Hijab.
Please contact the office for a review copy of: \’Hijab, Meaning, Identity, Otherization and Politics: British Muslim Women\’. A report by Saied R. Ameli, and Arzu Merali for the Islamic Human Rights Commission. Publication date: 26th January 2006, ISBN 1-903718-26-0, 84 pp, or visit the website for a summary:

2. IHRC’s report, Social Discrimination: Across the Muslim Divide, by Saied R. Ameli, Manzur Elahi and Arzu Merali, has a section dealing specifically with the demonisation of Shabina Begum and its implications for minority rights in this country. Please contact the office for a review copy.

Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183