Shabina Begum’s ruling means more segregation


by Kulvinder
23rd March, 2006 at 2:35 pm    

Amid all the rejoicing for the victory of common sense over the fundamental radicals in Shabina Begum’s case I can’t help but be worried.

There was another significant ruling before Shabina’s that got less attention but was equally important (infact it was used in her judgement!). In Ali v Lord Grey School the lords decided that even though the school had breached the domestic laws on exclusion they could not be held liable for any damages since the duty to provide an education fell to the LEA. Even though the school breached the law!

Those two rulings give schools nothing less than a quasi-license to discriminate if they so wish. You can argue that a school will take into account whatever needs exist, but it doesn’t matter, because that decision making process is unchallengeable.

Because there is no requirement to educate at a particular school, any school can exclude you and I’d argue that this ruling gives the go ahead for those schools to do so even if there aren’t any other suitable ones in the local vicinity – the LEA could provide “home schooling”.

There is a duty to provide education but that’s it.

I don’t understand the near hysteria about the mortal defeat of misogynist radicals. For the sake of argument let’s assume the HuT conspiracy is an accurate depiction of reality. In what way does this help any future child? I’d always hoped that an institution would be held accountable for its practices and give any child a specific rationale for denying them their request.

With the introduction of faith based schools I’m weary that all this will lead to is a greater segregation of society.

By holding an institution accountable for its policy its actively responsible for doing absolutely everything for a particular individual. All this ruling suggests to me is that problematic or dogmatic family’s will be shunted out of the education system when the very opposite is necessary.

Instead of dealing with a patriarchal and deeply insular family head on and doing everything to keep a child in heterogeneous environment the school will find it far far easier to get rid of and exclude the problem child. That exclusion may not even comply with the law. It no longer matters.

Those privately run schools will ditch problem students, faith based schools will introduce whatever form of uniform they wish and if those that don’t share their faith don’t agree they can leave. This won’t be cohesive in any way.

All the media backslapping and general joy at her losing will be shortlived. The institutions that we hope will instill commonality amongst a diverse set of individuals will find it more prudent to aim for a homogenous makeup that gets them further up that blessed league table.

Any future Shabina Begums won’t find a way to interact with people outside their immediate family, they may well end up just sitting at home. How sad.


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  1. Jay Singh — on 23rd March, 2006 at 2:53 pm  

    Kulvinder this case was about none of the things you claim here. I can’t be bothered to write about this again because I have written so much about it on every other thread. So I’ll paste a link to Madeline Bunting in the Guardian who hits the spot on this one and say that your assertions here are a travesty.

    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/madeleine_bunting/2006/03/hijack_averted.html

  2. Sunny — on 23rd March, 2006 at 3:24 pm  

    To be honest, I think the two are talking about entirely different things.

    While I share Bunting’s concerns, Kulvinder is not looking at this from that perspective, and hence I believe this article adds something interesting to the debate.

    Much of the talk so far by MB, as well as Fareena Alam on CiF has been around religious identity. But increasingly I’m seeing this as a libertarian issue (damn you Kulvinder) and hence may end up somewhere else.

    Reformist Muslim said something similar… and him being a lawyer and all, I’m waiting to see what he comes up with.

  3. Arman — on 23rd March, 2006 at 3:44 pm  

    Ultimately, the line has to be drawn somewhere with regards to assimilation. You can’t expect to live in a western society and not conform (even to a small degree) with the customs of that society. I think most western societies have a gone out of their ways to accept the cultural and religious traditions of immigrants and minorities (in this case, the school already accomodating the use of hijab).

    Immigrants have the obligation to assimilate to these western societies. If they refuse, frankly they should go back to their native countries and see if they can enjoy the same degree of personal freedoms that they get in a westernized country.

  4. Jay Singh — on 23rd March, 2006 at 3:47 pm  

    Arman

    Immigrants (shabina Begum is NOT an immigrant) don’t have an obligation to assimilate. They do have a requirement to INTEGRATE. I hope you understand the difference between the two so I don’t have to explain it. I’m not confident of that though.

  5. Arman — on 23rd March, 2006 at 3:50 pm  

    Fine but one is related to the other. If immigrants cannot assimilate properly to the society, how can you expect their children (2nd or 3rd generation brits) to integrate?

  6. Jay Singh — on 23rd March, 2006 at 3:53 pm  

    Arman

    I can’t be bothered to explain what should be self explanatory to you because I don’t like spoon feeding people. Assimilate and Integrate. Think of the difference between the two words.

  7. Sunny — on 23rd March, 2006 at 3:53 pm  

    I don’t know why we’re even having this stupid discussion. First generation immigrants always have a problem integrating when they don’t speak the language. The same is not true of the 2nd and 3rd gen. Regardless, that has no bearing on the case – please stick to the topic.

  8. Goldenberg — on 23rd March, 2006 at 4:56 pm  

    Implicit in the HoL judgment was the recognition that Shabina’s school had taken great care in formulating its uniform policy and also in reviewing the policy when Shabina’s objections were brought to light. I daresay that if the school had not given consideration to people of different faiths in formulating its policy, then the judgment may well have been different. It is explicit in the judgment that this decision was particular to the facts of this case. (I have not yet read the Ali judgment so cannot comment on this). I think the ratio of the case relates more to the interpretation of Article 9 rather than drawing a line in the sand on what schools can or canot unilaterally decide on. The references on whether Shabina was/was not exculded are more obiter.

    The facts remain that the uniform policy had been long established and enforced. Shabina’s parents (and later, her guardian) were well aware of this. I think the HoL at the back of their minds were also concerned about what the practical effects of a ruling in Shabina’s favour would be. To require a school to make an exception or alter its uniform policy everytime a student feels that they wants to change the way that they practise their religion would create more trouble than it is worth. At some stage a sensible compromise has to be reached. For the sake of practicality and workability, it seems come to the position that the rules regarding uniforms, etc should be inclusive as possible without being overly burdensome. I think they fudged their interpretation of the term “exclusion” to fit in with this view.

  9. Chris — on 23rd March, 2006 at 5:11 pm  

    Well if you guys took a consistently libertarian approach to the world I might be a little more impressed with the ‘libertarian’ argument against this ruling…although I have to say I struggle to see it in any case.

    The argument for having a school uniform – especially that it removes at least one source of bullying – seems very strong. If you have a uniform you have to have rules. Once you have rules, some liberty is lost.
    If you want to argue that anything goes in terms of dress at school, well that’s at least consistent.
    What is not consistent is to argue that religious belief constitutes privileged grounds for breaking the rules.

    You can of course argue whether the rules are reasonable. I am not a lawyer, but your argument in part seems to be that this ruling implies that any school can now impose unreasonable rules?
    You describe this rather obscurely as a “quasi-license to discriminate”…I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean? Exactly what will schools now be permitted to?
    And in what sense was this school, which struck me as bending over backwards to be inclusive, disciminating? Other than discriminating against an assertion of ‘belief’? Which gets us back to the ‘I believe in naturism/devil-worship, etc. problem.’

    Of course the real libertarian case would be that the state should not be directly providing education at all…

  10. Chris — on 23rd March, 2006 at 5:16 pm  

    PS – Pace previous comment thread on this topic, I don’t know if this counts as vitriol, but you have to admit, she does come across nauseatingly self-righteous!

  11. Rohin — on 23rd March, 2006 at 5:23 pm  

    I’m with Jay, I can’t be bothered to reiterate things all over again. I remain firmly in favour of the Law Lords’ decision, it was the right one. I don’t see any libertarian argument either.

  12. Sunny — on 23rd March, 2006 at 5:30 pm  

    I think its a libertarian argument, though not in the way Kulvinder does. Am writing something about this for AIM.

    All the papers seem to be focusing much more on HuT than is really necessary, as if that makes any difference legally.

    The question is though whether Kulvinder’s doomsday scenario will play out. I think there is some exaggeration in this. Most shools will not seek to expel pupils on random excuses (I hope), and the number of girls wearing the jilbaab is negligible.

  13. Chris — on 23rd March, 2006 at 5:34 pm  

    I look forward to hearing what the libertarian argument might be.

  14. Kulvinder — on 23rd March, 2006 at 5:53 pm  

    It is explicit in the judgment that this decision was particular to the facts of this case…

    It was a majority decision that there was no breach of 9(1) because she had chosen the school and because she was free to go another school if she disagreed, as such the school in itself (in their opinion) didn’t interfere with her rights. If there was intereference it would have been acceptable because of the policies the school had undertaken. But the key point was because alternatives existed – in essence because the school wasn’t preventing Shabina from going elsewhere the school as an institution couldn’t infringe her rights, unless she couldn’t find anywhere else to go – then it might (or more likely the LEA would be accountable – Ali verdict).

    The specifics of the case were relevant to whether if any intereference existed it was justified, that was essentially made besides the point by deciding that if an alternative existed the school couldn’t interfere with her rights. They also said she hadn’t been excluded (!), by taking an article definition iirc.

    If you want to argue that anything goes in terms of dress at school, well that’s at least consistent.

    Thats what I might want, thats what you might want, but the uniform policy is left to the discretion of the school, and they take into account what broadly can be considered what the ‘community’ wants. Regardless of what philosophical foundation you take, at some point when considering ‘group activity’ you have to consider the merit of exception/compromise.

    What is not consistent is to argue that religious belief constitutes privileged grounds for breaking the rules.

    Not ‘religious belief’ but any demonstrably and sincere practise that needs to be observed for the individual, id consider naturism as seriously as i would religion.

    but your argument in part seems to be that this ruling implies that any school can now impose unreasonable rules?
    You describe this rather obscurely as a “quasi-license to discriminate”…I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean? Exactly what will schools now be permitted to?

    There is an obligation to take into consideration the needs of the community when making uniform rules, i can’t remember the exact wording but schools have to ‘consider’ it.

    However the Ali and Begum ruling effectively (and respectively) mean that no school is liable even if its exclusion is in breach of the law (the exclusion as in the Ali case can be unlawful) and that no student can challenge the legitimacy of the ‘consideration’ the school took when making the uniform policy because if they don’t approve they are free to leave.

    I can’t see how a school that takes a half-hearted approach to that ‘consideration’ and that further excludes a pupil (even unlawfully) can be made accountable. It is to me a quasi-license because there is no longer any real or ultimate recourse under the law. All liability is passed onto the LEA.

    The implication of that could be that a school when faced with a ‘difficult family’ could take the hardline to rid themselves of the problem, it won’t help any future Shabina Begums.

    HuT or whomever could say that no school is deemed ‘appropriate’ and that home schooling is needed. There is no compulsion on the school deal with anything they see as difficult. What im really interest to know is would any schools that are dependant on league tables blatently exclude any problem pupils knowing they have no liability even if the exclusion is illegal.

  15. Chris — on 23rd March, 2006 at 6:08 pm  

    Are you a lawyer? (Your PP CV is a little opaque…)
    Does this ruling really prevent challenge to unreasonable uniform rules so long as other schools are available??

    Of course some difficult families and pupils do need to be excluded, for the sake of those other pupils whose ‘rights’ tend to be asserted less belligerently.

    I think you undermine a serious point about possible reinforcement of segregation, though, with your attempt to describe the issue as ‘libertarian’ and to suggest that it is necessary to accommodate any ‘sincere practice’ – apart from anything else, who is to be the arbiter of that??

  16. alan wilson — on 23rd March, 2006 at 6:20 pm  

    So sorry for poor Shabina Begum, who was clearly used as a political football in this well executed publicity stunt by Hizb-ut-Tahrir, the notoriously ultra-bigoted Islamofascist group.
    The headmistress of the Denbigh School (with 79% of the pupils being Muslims) at the time this story started was a practising Muslim lady, and a school uniform designed specifically for Muslim girls (after lengthy consultations with the local Imam and other experts in Muslim affairs) was provided, so the school can hardly be accused religious intolerance, let alone bigotry and Islamophobia.
    While the Lords’ ruling was pure comonsense, it was pure idiocy to allow this lawsuit to go ahead in the first place.
    And here the main point is not even the awful waste of British taxpayers’ money (thanks Fod I moved to Ireland last year), but the fact that Hizb-ut-Tahrir has once again shown its ability to divide communities, spread hatred and create racial and religious unrest by cleverly exploiting those very Western liberties it loathes so much.
    Hizb-ut-Tahrir is far worse than the British National Party, and should be banned without hesitation.
    The group is already banned in a number of countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, Tunisia etc.
    But they are free to do as they please in Londonistan, Lutonistan, Birminghamistan, Manchesteristan, thanks to those typically British self-hating members of the PC brigade.
    Oh, for f*** sake !!!
    Alan Wilson
    Dublin

  17. alan wilson — on 23rd March, 2006 at 6:27 pm  

    A basic rule for those who hate segregation and love integration: “when in Rome do what the Romans do, and if you don’t like then just leave Rome”.
    I hope that now the maxim “When you are a Muslim fundamentalist in Londonistan do what the hell you like, and push your view down the throat of the majority by means of frivolous lawsuits and by playing on the sense of guilt of the PC Brigade” is dead and buried, but I am not holding my breath.
    Alan
    Dublin

  18. Kulvinder — on 23rd March, 2006 at 6:33 pm  

    Are you a lawyer? (Your PP CV is a little opaque…)

    Necessarily so :p

    Does this ruling really prevent challenge to unreasonable uniform rules so long as other schools are available??

    Im still thinking it through and picking up more, Im begining to think they took the fudged term for shabina not actually being ‘excluded’ because they knew that they’d just ruled that illegal exclusions that break domestic law aren’t a liability in terms of your right to an education (wrt the school). But yeah the first consideration in Shabina’s judgement was whether her right to manifest her religion had been interefered with, they said no because she could go elsewhere, any interference in this case was unanimously seen to be justified but the fact remains the uniform policy is set by the school and if you don’t like it bugger off. The school has to show it took consideration of religious practise but if the student has a problem they can’t say their right to manifest their faith is being interefered with. Its a bit of a mess because in my mind the ‘consideration’ is now bollocks.

    Lemme put it another way, Denbigh high could tomorrow say that the commmunity wants burkas and any white student enrolled could object, the school could argue that if you’re a practising christian wear a cross over the burka, if you aren’t practising wear the damned burka. You don’t like it fuck off to somewhere that does whatever you want. If the Law lords had said there was an intereference but that interference was justified id have been ok. But saying there is no interference because there are alternatives and further saying any illegal exclusions aren’t liable is giving any future school the opportunity to do whatever the fuck it wants.

    Of course some difficult families and pupils do need to be excluded, for the sake of those other pupils whose ‘rights’ tend to be asserted less belligerently.

    Difficult could be argued to be the thickos. It isn’t teh schools problem to provide an education – thats teh LEA, saying we want the thickos out might be a breach of domestic law but you can’t argue that your right to an education has been interfered with because they illegaly exclude you.

    I think you undermine a serious point about possible reinforcement of segregation, though, with your attempt to describe the issue as ‘libertarian’ and to suggest that it is necessary to accommodate any ’sincere practice’ – apart from anything else, who is to be the arbiter of that??

    Unless you advocate gods law and have set of principles we should all abide by we debate, discuss, argue and talk then have a system where learned (lol) members of society ajudicate between us. Im not sure what you understand by libertarianism but it doesn’t mean getting rid of the law, quite the opposite it needs it.

  19. Kulvinder — on 23rd March, 2006 at 6:44 pm  

    Hmm i wonder if this will lead to some kind of commerical contract between the LEA and the schools, if the schools fuck them about the LEAs can do…something. Anyhoo im sure with enough money this will all be sorted out. Fucking lords, they’ll get theres, NO MORE LAW LORDS MOTHERFUCKERS YOU WON’T BE SO SPECIAL IN THE COMMUNITY OF THE INTERNATIONAL BIGGEST OF THE BIG WIG WALLAHS WILL YOU? JUST ANOTHER MEMBER OF ANOTHER FUCKING GENERIC SUPREME COURT, cunts.

  20. Kulvinder — on 23rd March, 2006 at 7:42 pm  

    Incidently the concept of overall discrimination or assuming the modulus of discrimination over all society is complete bollocks. In the 50s and 60s when the pakis/paddies/niggers/queers etc were being actively discriminated against they could still easily find jobs, they came to this country because labour was needed. The laws of discrimination weren’t introduced to give employment but to prevent social seperation. Those laws do as much to protect the majority from the minority as the other, by putting the emphasis on every business on every job the sikh community (as an example) can’t become completely insular, sikhs could only employ sikhs, get wealthy but keep the wealthy tightly controlled, imagine the paranoia that would arise from that, ‘jewish’ type conspiracy theories for every group of society, the birmingham riots a more common occurance.

    The laws of discrimination prevent social seperation and promote social cohesion, back when those laws were written the niggers could fuck off and get another job but that wasn’t the point.

    This has just taken a massive shit in the middle of all that. Fuck off if you aren’t happy :rolleyes:

  21. Sid D H Arthur — on 23rd March, 2006 at 9:35 pm  

    alan wilson

    another great maxim is “thick provincial dubliners should shut the fuck up lest the bollocks they speak show them up to be provincial fools”. Live your life by it.

  22. Sid D H Arthur — on 23rd March, 2006 at 9:54 pm  

    Kulvinder

    Much as I admire your righteous-rarse-klart anger over this issue, I think you should direct it at issues that deserve your abilities. All I’m saying is pick your battles well because this one is a non-starter.

    Any future Shabina Begums won’t find a way to interact with people outside their immediate family, they may well end up just sitting at home. How sad.

    She’s a schoolgirl. No Muslim law expects her to be wearing a full hijab in any case. And to suggest that she would be at home otherwise means that her seclusion is more important to her and her family than an education. In which case, let her get educated at home.

  23. Britoz — on 23rd March, 2006 at 10:24 pm  

    As a teacher in the UK, this is not about a school’s right to discriminate. It is about students accepting that there is a dress code at a Government school and that, whilst a school with do its utmost to accomodate people’s needs, it cannot please everyone. Where is it that actually states that a Muslim has to wear a full hijab. I work with Muslims who are serious about their faith and they don’t wear a headscarf and say that there is no stipulation that they have to to be a “good” Muslim.
    The family of this girl should feel more responsible for her missing out on vital education and using up £100,000 of Legal Aid.

  24. alan wilson — on 23rd March, 2006 at 11:08 pm  

    Britoz
    Very well said. So patently obvious!!!

    Sid D H Arthur
    You low-life idiot, living in Dublin is not the same as being a Dubliner, but that is irrelevant.
    Anyway, Dublin right now regarded as the best town in Europe to live in, and your brain full of shit has no fucking idea how many Britons (plus various other EU nationals) live and work here.
    If there is a reason why you object to my message just let us know in an articulate manner, otherwise just shut the fuck up.

  25. Yusuf Smith — on 23rd March, 2006 at 11:10 pm  

    Where is it that actually states that a Muslim has to wear a full hijab. I work with Muslims who are serious about their faith and they don’t wear a headscarf and say that there is no stipulation that they have to to be a “good” Muslim.

    It is in the Qur’an and the Hadeeth. The fact that some Musilms do not obey doesn’t make it less of an obligation any more than the fact that some Muslims eat pork and drink beer. I suggest that you consult any of the many websites which explain the Islamic rulings on a woman’s dress requirements and their basis in the primary texts.

  26. alan wilson — on 23rd March, 2006 at 11:31 pm  

    Britoz
    Shabina Begun is orphan of both parents, and her closest relative is her elder brother who is a known Hizb-ut-Tahrir zealot, so, Bingo!
    As to the education Shabina missed out on, Mmmm, who knows how much money she (or her brother) has been promised or actually given by Hizb-ut-Tahrir or other fundamentalist groups.
    As to the £100,000 in Legal Aid that the British taxpayer had to fork out, well, Hizb-ut-Tahrir has killed 2 birds with 1 stone, that is 1) stir up trouble in Britain and
    2) at the infidel British taxpayers’ expenses.
    Anyway I am really surprised that a lawsuit that has gone on for almost 3 years has cost ONLY £100,000.

    And as to the moderate Muslims’ reactions, none of them has shown much sympathy for Shabina.
    The local Imam said that the lawsuit has only deepened the gulf between Muslims and non Muslims, while the famous New-York based Muslim feminist Mona Eltahawy has already written a few articles, fiercely condemning both Shabina and “those behind her”.
    Time for hand-wringing liberals and self-hating loony lefties to take note.

    My idea is that frivolous lawsuits like this should not be received in the first place, and some EU countries do have an initial screening panes of judges that assesses the feasibility of the lawsuits and declines to accept those that are deemed to be a waste of time and money.
    Britain should seriously think about setting up a similar panel.
    Alan
    (right now proudly in Dublin)

  27. Sid D H Arthur — on 23rd March, 2006 at 11:33 pm  

    Yusuf Smith

    What verse(s) or sayings in the primary texts literally states that women’s faces must be covered?

    I consulted a website and it seems to be perfectly valid and sensible on the interpretation of the verses in the Qur’an on hijab here.

  28. Don — on 23rd March, 2006 at 11:53 pm  

    My interpretation of the ruling (which is based on absolutely no legal expertise whatsoever) is that you have the right to manifest your religion; but not an over-riding right to manifest it as you please, when you please and where you please, without regard to the wishes of others, public order, health and safety, or a reasonable code of conduct within an institution you have chosen to join.

    And the institutions are obliged to show that their code of conduct is consensual, inclusive, and informed by a sensitive awareness of the people for and with whom they are working.

    Where an institution is unable to accommodate necessary manifestations of piety, there is an obligation to ensure that acceptable alternatives which are so able are conveniently available. Which is not the same as ‘If you don’t like, it fuck off’.

    It was central that Shabina had a choice of three schools;
    a. One where the jilbab was accepted.
    b. A single-sex school, where it was unnecessary by even the strictest interpretation.
    c. A school where it was not accepted.

    Her choice? c, but with the demand that they must immediately and without compromise or discussion change the rules.

    This ruling is surely only relevant to cases where such a situation applies.

    I don’t see anything getting shat on.

    Kulvinder provides his own reductio ad absurdum when he insists that he extends this principle to naturists. And, in a sense, he is right; by the same logic he would have to defend a student’s right to attend school naked.

    Actually, it really not all that relevant. Faith schools play by different rules, and we seem to be doomed to them. You want exclusion policies? Selection by religion, economics, ability, social status, attitude, aesthetics? All the wrong people are going to be making those decisions.

    And one of the schools which have been doing it right has been seriously screwed over for political ends. Which is what this case was about, rather than some legalistic rabbit-hole.

  29. alan wilson — on 23rd March, 2006 at 11:56 pm  

    Hey Sid D H Arthur , you fucking idiot!

    Forgot to say that here in Ireland a case like Shabina Begum stands tha same chance as a snowman in Hell.
    The Irish might be very welcoming and hospitable, but they can become estremely nasty when someone abuses their hospitality and takes the piss.
    While the British still have a deep sense of guilt because of the past mischief done by the now defunct British Empire, the Irish have no such problem, therefore Ireland might have many problems, but political correctness gone mad is not one of them.

  30. Sunny — on 24th March, 2006 at 12:33 am  

    Alan and Sid – can you please stop mindlessly swearing at each other. Its most annoying, and on top of that I don’t even know what the beef is! Take a chill pill amigos.

  31. Siddhartha — on 24th March, 2006 at 12:40 am  

    Don yes you’re right. Agree with you.

    I agree with Sunny that the media amy have over-emphasized HT’s role in this saga, but we all know that the Shabina Begum’s education was held to ransom as she became the patsy to the their absurd interpretations.

    Yusuf Smith, I was not being belligerent in #27. I would really like to know where you have found the Qur’an and the Sunna to state that the full black hijab with face covered is a divine injunction.

  32. Siddhartha — on 24th March, 2006 at 12:41 am  

    Sunny, apologies for troll bating.

  33. alan wilson — on 24th March, 2006 at 12:44 am  

    OK, Sunny

    IMO the Lords’ ruling is a welcome slap in the face to the politically correct and self-hating loony lefties like George Galloway who support the idea that Muslims are always right and Whites are always wrong.
    It is also a welcome victory for those who work hard for integration and against ghettos and segregation.

    However steps have to be taken to make sure that silly lawsuits like this one will not be started in the future, and Shabina should be permanently barred from all future lawsuits.
    Hope I am not too harsh, but if we want to see Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikh, Buddhists etc living peacefully side by side some strong measures against extremists have to be taken.
    Alan

  34. Sunny — on 24th March, 2006 at 12:55 am  

    Hope I am not too harsh, but if we want to see Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikh, Buddhists etc living peacefully side by side some strong measures against extremists have to be taken.

    That’s not harsh – thats what we want too on PP ;)
    I think Kulvinder is being overly pessimistic with his analysis but its still worth thinking about.

    and thanks to both for desisting in flame-wars.

  35. Siddhartha — on 24th March, 2006 at 1:27 am  

    Still no comment from Yusuf Smith, perhaps its too late to expect a reply tonight. But I followed links to Saracen’s blog where Mr Smith left this comment from him:

    As for the so-called liberal Muslims who say hijab isn’t compulsory, I regard them as the worst type of criminals – they expose practising Muslim women to hurt and ridicule. The excuse is always the same – “others will be forced to wear it” – but people don’t like being forced to wear constricting collars and ties or ridiculous school colours either.

    Well I’d regard myself as a “so-called liberal Muslim” but I never claim that women who wear the full hijab are doing so because they are invariably forced to do wear them. Furthermore I reject the fantastic claim that Muslims who question the interpretation of Hijab as a specifically a black face covering garment as “criminals” who expose practicing Muslim women to hurt and ridicule. What on earth are you on?

    There are millions of practicing Muslim women who do not wear the full jilbab/hijab who would be extremely offended when told that they are compromising their faith because they don’t cover their faces or, worse, that they are liberal criminals for not not following this interpretion.

  36. Sunny — on 24th March, 2006 at 2:40 am  

    The vast majority of Muslim women thankfully don’t follow Yusuf’s absurd thinking.

  37. Yusuf Smith — on 24th March, 2006 at 9:17 am  

    For starters submission.org is NOT a valid Islamic website. It is run by the so-called International Community of Submitters, commonly known as “the 19-ers”, which is known for its outlandish belief that the Sunnah (basically the Hadeeth) is not part of Islam and that following it is idolatry. They are a tiny, unrepresentative sect.

    I was not talking about wearing all black with the face covered anyway; I was talking about hijab with long loose clothing, which is what is under discussion here anyway. And I was not talking about women who simply don’t wear hijab – I was talking about those (men and women) who go around saying it’s not necessary to wear it, and claim to those in authority that their opinion is based on Islam when it in fact is not.

  38. David T — on 24th March, 2006 at 9:36 am  

    “I regard them as the worst type of criminals “???!!!

    Come on Yusuf.

    You’re a convert mate. You don’t have the excuse that you’re using the flowery language of a traditional and conservative culture. What on earth do you mean by “criminals”?

    This is the irony.

    Neither Sid – nor I, for that matter – would say that women are invariably be forced to wear religiously ordained clothing. But in any religious community which has ritual dress – jews, mormons, sikhs – there are people who do attempt to force that dress on dissenters.

    And, it is often those sorts of people who go around talking about those dissenters being “the worst sort of criminals” who are doing that forcing.

  39. Refresh — on 24th March, 2006 at 10:27 am  

    Shabina Begum has not lost out educationally by the process she has gone through. It will have been an experience the vast majority of people will never go through (thankfully) – but the one thing it will have done is exposed her, personally, to the big wide world.

    The world of media, the lawyers, details of the law and its working and no doubt many interviews to come. And a book at the end of it. I expect to hear and see more of her. And who knows, like most kids expect great good from her. A development of the child which will not be available to most others.

    Whatever one thinks of her case, she is one strong girl. First dealing with becoming an orphan, then dealing with the world.

    As for the case itself, Kulvinder has hit on the one thing that struck too. Does this give schools and any other body, public or private to practise discriminatory policies on the basis you if you don’t like it go somewhere else. Not this one ruling, but is it the start of that bandwagon.

    Alan Wilson I think tries to address this – but I am not so sure.

    I don’t see that its an alien element seeking to ‘establish’ her rights, but a British girl seeking to resolve a matter in her favour.

    Remind yourselves of other cases where we have thought what a waste of money. Most of them have tended to be in the domain of family, child and schools or discrimination.

    One recent case – a woman who sued the local authority for bullying in the playground when she was at primary school. And she won compensation. Never thought such cases would be brought – but if it ruined her life, it ruined her life.

    The problem with this case is that it did win in earlier hearings. It was not Shabina Begum seeking to overturn, it was the school. So the question then might be posed – Who was behind the school? And are they covered by legal aid.

    On a personal note, the argument that her wearing the garment would pressurise others to do the same, or worse be pressurised by parents is absolutely pathetic. Says more about the school’s ability to empower their pupils than it does about Shabina’s capacity to ‘hector’ through dress.

  40. Refresh — on 24th March, 2006 at 10:33 am  

    Sunny, is there some way of editing posts after hitting the button? I wanted my last post to be a bit more literate than it now reads.

    Anyway a follow-up, the question of Shabina’s HuT brother being the driving force seems to be a bid odd, now I understand that Shabina has a sister at that school who does not wear the same. Does that mean Shabina’s brother has more power over Shabina than her sister? Or does it mean Shabina is a strong person in her own right?

  41. Jay Singh — on 24th March, 2006 at 11:07 am  

    refresh

    Says more about the school’s ability to empower their pupils than it does about Shabina’s capacity to ‘hector’ through dress

    Refresh, this is what the Law Lords said about the schools ability to empower their pupils in the ruling:

    The head teacher, Mrs Yasmin Bevan, was born into a Bengali Muslim family and grew up in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh before coming to this country. She has had much involvement with Bengali Muslim communities here and abroad, and is familiar with the codes and practices governing the dress of Muslim women. Since her appointment as head teacher in 1991, when it was not performing well, the school has come to enjoy an outstanding measure of success

    So, this headmistress takes a afailing school, and singlehandedly transforms it into one described as enjoying ‘an outstanding measure of success’. I would say that the school has a pretty flawless record of empowering her pupils, and your histrionic snidery is absolutely uncalled for.

  42. Don — on 24th March, 2006 at 11:20 am  

    Refresh

    Part of the case was that Shabina wished to adopt the hijab as she had entered puberty. The sister is two years older and this paticular aspect would not apply. However, that is unlikely to be the major point. The elder sister would, presumably, be about to enter sixth form, at which time she would be considering her options. Of course, we can only speculate about the dynamics within the family.

    The Dfee took up the case, but only once it was well advanced (I’m afraid I don’t know exactly when). Prior to that, normal practice would have required costs to be met from school funds.

    As for the ‘take it or leave it’ bandwagon, if you have any foundation schools, academies or faith schools proposing to take over state schools in your area, I suggest you attend the meetings and watch the small print.

  43. Don — on 24th March, 2006 at 11:23 am  

    Refresh,

    ‘Who was behind the school?’

    A sinister organisation known only as ‘The Governors’ , believed to have links to a wider conspiracy by ‘The Parents’.

  44. Jay Singh — on 24th March, 2006 at 11:24 am  

    A sinister organisation known only as ‘The Governors’ , believed to have links to a wider conspiracy by ‘The Parents’.

    LoL!

  45. David T — on 24th March, 2006 at 11:25 am  

    hahaha

  46. Refresh — on 24th March, 2006 at 11:34 am  

    Jay, it was not intended as snidery (?). . ..Maybe I need to look at how I term things, so you don’t misinterpret.

    The question was about the argument put forward (in some quarters at least) that it put other pupils under pressure. That argument is vacuous is my point. And unnecessary.

    Given that here, we are arguing finer points of the issue, it it needs to be said.

    As for the school’s performance, it should really be put forward as an example to others – not least to muslim parents.

    I have sat as a governor at a similar school, and fought the LEA from its decision to close due to ‘falling rolls’ – ‘white flight’ I think it was known as.

    It now thrives and is over-subscribed with pupils from all parts of the town and esp. white and non-muslims.

    In the end its the educational performance and willingness from everyone to build a cohesive community.

    By the way what is histrionic snidery?

  47. Refresh — on 24th March, 2006 at 11:38 am  

    “As for the ‘take it or leave it’ bandwagon, if you have any foundation schools, academies or faith schools proposing to take over state schools in your area, I suggest you attend the meetings and watch the small print.”

    I will – be interested in your experience.

  48. Jay Singh — on 24th March, 2006 at 11:39 am  

    refresh

    The histrionic part was a low blow I agree. More to do with your propensity for hysteria and exagerration pace ‘They are firing up the gas chambers right now’

    The snide part comes in with your comment about the schools ability to empower their pupils when it is plain to see that they are experts at empowering their pupils through the school having been transformed from a failing one to one experiencing an ‘outstanding measure of success’. It is a snide shot.

    The question was about the argument put forward (in some quarters at least) that it put other pupils under pressure. That argument is vacuous is my point. And unnecessary.

    I trust the headmaster of the school against you on this point and totally reject your characterisation of it as vacuous.

  49. Jay Singh — on 24th March, 2006 at 11:45 am  

    Neither Sid – nor I, for that matter – would say that women are invariably be forced to wear religiously ordained clothing. But in any religious community which has ritual dress – jews, mormons, sikhs – there are people who do attempt to force that dress on dissenters.

    You get the same kind of discourse with some Orthodox Sikhs who say you cannot call yourself Sikh unless you wear the turban. I believe that some Orthodox Jews have a similar rule based definition of Jewishness.

  50. Refresh — on 24th March, 2006 at 11:48 am  

    “The Dfee took up the case, but only once it was well advanced (I’m afraid I don’t know exactly when). Prior to that, normal practice would have required costs to be met from school funds.”

    This is probably the most interesting point, presumably Dfee has a reason of policy. I also presume the dress isn’t the real issue. Probably more the ascribed role of the governors.

    On the question of family dynamics – my view is that we have a strong girl. Regardless of the affiliation of the brother.

    As for purpose of pursuing the case from the girl’s point of view – strikes me as pure teenage rebellion.

    I was much more interested in what Boris Johnson (Telegraph) had to say on the topic: That it has nothing to do with modesty of the girl – why else draw the limelight.

    Elsewhere I have said that there was stubborness on both sides of this argument.

  51. Kulvinder — on 24th March, 2006 at 11:58 am  

    And the institutions are obliged to show that their code of conduct is consensual, inclusive, and informed by a sensitive awareness of the people for and with whom they are working.

    What?!

    Where an institution is unable to accommodate necessary manifestations of piety, there is an obligation to ensure that acceptable alternatives which are so able are conveniently available. Which is not the same as ‘If you don’t like, it fuck off’.

    Erm no. There is no obligation to ensure alternatives with regards to the uniform, thats the point. If you don’t like the policy of the school you’re free to leave. Their majority judgement was that the school couldn’t infringe her rights (when she disputed the policy) because she could go elsewhere, or going on from the Ali verdict the LEA should do something (although Shabina wasn’t ‘excluded’)

    This ruling is surely only relevant to cases where such a situation applies.

    *sigh*
    The LEA can always provide alternatives.

    This is going round in circles and tbh i can’t be bothered to go over it again, if thats what you think, fine.

    Refresh, schools could still be prosecuted for excluding someone because of their race, for example, but its unclear what happens if they try to engineer the school to suceed, a ‘disruptive’ pupil might be taken as an ambigious term and allow them more freedom than society would wish. Exclusion on the basis of religion is now theoretically easier (since their uniform policy has to take ‘consideration’ of religion but is geared towards ‘the community’). Even if the school breaks the law and it is quite clear it has broken it (no black student for example) that student can’t claim his right to an education has been affected, afaik the ‘test’ will be finding an alternative rather than what domestic law was broken on that particular exclusion. If, as is most likely the case, the LEA sorts something out (even home schooling would fulfill the statutary requirement to provide an education), the excluded student can only bring a case against the school on existing domestic law (race etc etc). One way to deter school acting in that manner would be heavy fines, but then we get back to excluding disruptive (read academically not bright) students.

  52. Refresh — on 24th March, 2006 at 12:03 pm  

    Thanks for the clarification – I think you do misinterpret.

    The point is simple – there is no reason for putting up that argument (dress pressure on others – in short) – as the school has and can counter it by empowering their pupils.

    How do you empower? By pointing out what muslims can or can’t wear. As is clearly happening on here.

    Does that explain it any better?

    BTW on the gas chambers – that is not exaggeration – that is a view. To be forewarned is to be forewarned (in the current climate, not quite forearmed not yet).

  53. Jay Singh — on 24th March, 2006 at 12:05 pm  

    How do you empower? By pointing out what muslims can or can’t wear. As is clearly happening on here

    Yeah – and they did that by telling her that she could not break the school unifrom policy. And they did not back down. So what is the problem?

    BTW on the gas chambers – that is not exaggeration

    Histrionics.

  54. Refresh — on 24th March, 2006 at 12:14 pm  

    You are smart.

    Its unfortunate you’ve not followed what I’ve said.

    Jay Singh says: – ‘The hooligans really really really hate Asians. We are their number one hate target. ‘

    from Rohin’s thread about Euro-thugs collaborating to attack muslims at World Cup in Germany.

  55. Jai — on 24th March, 2006 at 12:29 pm  

    =>”BTW on the gas chambers – that is not exaggeration – that is a view. To be forewarned is to be forewarned (in the current climate, not quite forearmed not yet).”

    Not only is this “histrionics”, it is severe paranoia. The reality of the situation is that groups like HuT, Al-Qaeda, and those 7 jihadists currently on trial for attempting to initiate a mass bombing campaign here in the UK which are more likely to have a “let’s use gas chambers” mindset than most indigenous British people.

    There are indeed fascists around who think in the way that you fear — however, it’s not the “locals” you should be worrying about, but those jihadist groups who really do have a psychopathic, religiously-motivated fascist mentality. Your concerns are directed towards the wrong people.

    With regards to Shabina Begum’s case, in addition to the points Jay Singh & Rohin have already made (which I agree with), I think that this was also driven to some extent by stubbornness and ego too — a self-destructive, out-of-proportion refusal by her and/or her brother to back down and do the more sensible thing (ie. options ‘a’ or ‘b’ as summarised by Don in post #28).

    “Zid”, to use the Asian word.

    =>”On a personal note, the argument that her wearing the garment would pressurise others to do the same, or worse be pressurised by parents is absolutely pathetic.”

    With all due respect, you are either naive or possibly being deliberately dishonest here, considering the reality of how some quarters of Muslim society (and indeed much of non-Muslim Asian society) actually operates. You should be well aware of how much “what other people say/think” can be a factor in manipulating people’s behaviour, especially in communities where there is a pressure to ‘conform’ and where there is an unusually high premium on being “moral” and “respectable”.

  56. Siddhartha Singh Muslim — on 24th March, 2006 at 12:34 pm  

    For starters submission.org is NOT a valid Islamic website. It is run by the so-called International Community of Submitters, commonly known as “the 19-ers”, which is known for its outlandish belief that the Sunnah (basically the Hadeeth) is not part of Islam and that following it is idolatry. They are a tiny, unrepresentative sect.

    sidi Yusuf,

    Perhaps so, but in the page I linked to, they did not mention the Sunnah when attempting to unravel the meaning of the hijab – but rather from Qur’anic sources.
    And those arguments that they have used are not ones that they have plucked from the sky – in fact they’re quite common and I’ve heard/read traditional imams, who are not 19-ers by any stretch, state the same thing.

    You on the other hand have not provided any links to suggest that clothing other than that which drapes the body and “covers the bosoms” is necessary for compliance with the hijab.

  57. Refresh — on 24th March, 2006 at 12:35 pm  

    Right on cue.

    Can you confirm you’re not the Jay with a ‘y’?

  58. Jay Singh — on 24th March, 2006 at 12:40 pm  

    Good post Jai, thanks for spelling out the obvious for the benefit of Refresh.

  59. Jai — on 24th March, 2006 at 12:47 pm  

    Refresh, I can confirm that I am not “Jay singh”. I also stopped using “Singh” as part of my username several months ago both here and on Sepia Mutiny, so that should serve as the prime differentiator between myself and my namesake if there is any confusion regarding our identity in the case of any messages we submit.

    Jay Singh — thanks for your response, much appreciated.

  60. Refresh — on 24th March, 2006 at 2:00 pm  

    That’s settled then. Next.

  61. Old Pickler — on 26th March, 2006 at 12:56 pm  

    It is in the Qur’an and the Hadeeth. >

    Tough.

  62. Jay Singh — on 26th March, 2006 at 6:08 pm  

    At a dinner party last night, the consensus was that Shabina Begum is quite fit, and that she looks smart and attractive in her stylish matching jilbabs, coats and handbags.

    I hope she is sixteen.

  63. Sid D H Arthur — on 26th March, 2006 at 6:19 pm  

    I hope she is sixteen.

    ?

  64. Kulvinder — on 26th March, 2006 at 7:31 pm  

    What are you going to do if she isn’t? poke your eyes out!

  65. Jay Singh — on 26th March, 2006 at 7:36 pm  

    Well I would feel bad if she wasnt sixteen and people were sayng she is fit. Although Boris Johnson thinks she is fit too.

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