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Radicals backed Muslim girl loses uniform case

The Law Lords delivered a judgement criticising not only Shabina Begum but the Court of Appeal as well for deciding in her favour.
None | By Vijay Dutt, London
PUBLISHED ON MAR 23, 2006 08:40 PM IST

The Law Lords delivered a scathing judgement criticising not only Shabina Begum for arguing that her school by disallowing her to wear a full-length Islamic gown violated her human rights but the Court of Appeal as well for deciding in her favour.

Cherie Blair, QC, had argued for Shabina.

The Lords allowed the appeal by Denbigh High School in Luton against the unanimous judgement of the Court of Appeal. One Lord said it would be "irresponsible" for any court to over-rule the school's judgement "on a matter as sensitive as this".

The power to devise a school uniform had been given to the school staff and governors for the "compelling reason" that they were best placed to exercise it. "The school had taken immense care to devise a uniform policy that respected Muslim beliefs," observed the Law Lords.

But Cherie Blair had argued that the school action in denying her to attend classes in her chosen dress had deprived Shabina of the right to manifest her religion under Article Nine of the Human Rights Convention. The judges have countered that the Article did not give one right to manifest one's religion at any time or place.

The confrontation by Shabina has not only deprived her of almost three years of education but cost the taxpayers almost one hundred thousand pounds in costs. Most feel that the case was backed by radical Islamic groups like Hizbul Tahrir who wanted to bully the school authorities and take away powers of teachers of how to run their institutions.

Boris Johnson MP even said he did not blame Cherie Blair for taking up the case because "we all understand the cab rank principle for barristers.

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