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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 March, 2005, 09:56 GMT
Traditional dress ruling: Your reaction
Shabina Begum leaves the High Court in London on Wednesday March 2 2005
A girl was unlawfully excluded from school for wearing a traditional Muslim dress instead of school uniform, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Shabina Begum had not attended Denbigh High School in Luton since September 2002, when she was sent home for wearing the jilbab, an ankle-length gown.

Ms Begum had argued that she was being denied her "right to education and to manifest her religious beliefs".

But the school claimed the jilbab was a health and safety risk and it already offered an alternative uniform for its Muslim pupils.

What is your reaction to the Court of Appeal ruling? Are alternative uniforms for Muslim pupils acceptable?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion received so far:

Miss Begum knew what the school rules and dress codes were when she applied to attend the school
Nicola Price, Clitheroe, UK
As a secondary school teacher I feel compelled to comment on this sad state of affairs that has transpired through one person's defiance of clearly set out school rules. We have school uniforms for several reasons, one of these being their practicality. Easy to wash, and relatively cheap to replace when damaged or destroyed, they reduce the likelihood of impoverished pupils being bullied by others. When conducting practical lessons, DT, Science, Fieldtrips and even PE, uniforms are ideal. They do not get caught in machinery, equipment or cause other hindrance, as I feel a jilbab would.

The governing authorities invest a lot of time and money in formulating school rules that are as fair as possible and take into account the cultural and social differences of the pupils they cater for. Many multi-faith schools allow girls to wear trousers instead of skirts, and headscarves where appropriate. To flout the rules is not acceptable, because every provision has been made to ensure many needs and wants have been considered. Let's not forget, Miss Begum knew what the school rules and dress codes were when she applied to attend the school, and will have had to sign some kind of contract with the school agreeing to abide by these rules, as happens in most schools.
Nicola P, Clitheroe, UK

How refreshing to see a young woman dressed smartly and modestly for a change. It's a pity more of our young women can't take a leaf out of her book. To see some of the youngsters in so called school uniform is depressing, skirts no bigger than belts, tights with holes/ladders, scruffy shoes, make up, cigarettes on the go. I'm not convinced that I agree with the ruling but certainly it's about time female pupils were encouraged to dress more as though they were going to school and less like they were heading off to the local pub!
Barbara, SE, UK

To all those who think we should get rid of the Human Rights Act: Would that include your right to express your views freely on a website such as this?
Adam, London

This young lady wishes to dress modestly, which is no bad thing. But the fact is, there may well be variations in what is considered appropriate dress by different communities - the simple fact is that the leading Islamic experts in our country say that the uniform option that was already provided met these conditions. So, she would be meeting both her religious obligations and the "dress code" of overall British culture. I feel that this was, in fact, a rather selfish act; the school bent its rules to allow sufficient Islamic dress (and should be praised for doing so); why should the school be taken to task when, in fact, everyone should be happy?
Michael, Oxford/Chelmsford

I appreciate as a practicing Muslim a woman should be dressed modestly but the alternative offered was modest and still safe in a busy school environment. Uniform is uniform an alternative is offered as is only proper but any more is giving others the right to exploit school rules.
Eleanor, Brecon, UK

The point is she is not wearing 'Islamic' dress. She has chosen to wear a form of "Islamic" dress which is one interpretation of the Koranic instruction to "dress modestly".
Brian, Newcastle, UK

As far as I am concerned I can't help but laugh at the ludicrous comparisons some people have made "If I wanted to wear jeans I couldn't" Hijab is a religious regulation, it's down to personal belief and she is not "imposing" her beliefs on anyone else. She wants to cover herself in an Islamic way so as far as the courts decision goes, I personally think it's the right one.
Hussein, UK

The School's management, no matter mostly Muslim, should have respected Shabina's view and should not have tried to impose a "uniform" or "Shalwar Kamiz" (only common in Pakistan/India). The discussion matters most however as it bears out how intolerant we have become when we say "our" rules, regulations and laws, must be respected by people (meaning people such as Shabina) who want to live in this country!. Remember, Shabina is also one of us. She's just as British as anyone else. And why should she be not allowed to wear what she feels is required by her faith? People should have the freedom and the right to choose and live freely in Britain according to their religious beliefs.
Mr. Belvedere, London, UK

We need discipline and rules in our environment and a dress code is unique to each school. People have the freedom to look for schools where there is no code. This decision is appalling and the judge/judges should be ashamed of not being bold enough to uphold the rules of the land. God have mercy on UK for creating more problems in the name of being peaceful.
Tunde Williams, Dartford, UK

What about the human rights of all those women and girls who are "encouraged" to wear this sort of dress by male householders? This unnecessary measure will only serve to accentuate divisions in the UK rather than bring people together. Kids in school need to learn to live by the rules of the land in which they live. After all, they are free to express themselves anyway they wish outside the school gates..
Andrew, Kent, UK

We as a society should respect her views and allow her to study in a manner suitable to her lifestyle
Gavin, Hull, UK
This young woman clearly has strong religious views. I believe that we as a society should respect her views and allow her to study in a manner suitable to her lifestyle. We have become so conditioned to accept western dress as the acceptable norm. Why are our norms, the only appropriate ones?
Gavin, Hull, UK

This is a disgrace. The EU so-called "human rights" legislation is being used by those wishing to undermine our right to run our country the way we want to. All "religious" dress and symbolism should be kept out of schools, the authority of head-teachers and governors should be supported, and those who do not wish the rules should seek their education elsewhere. This kind of arrogant behaviour by a small minority of people can only fuel resentment and friction within the UK. It must be resisted, if necessary by withdrawing from the EU "human rights" legislation, which the British people never voted on anyway. When will the majority in this country be allowed "their" rights?
Laurence, Oxford, UK

Wearing traditional clothes is a trivial issue. Let people wear what they want. People who form opinions on the mode of dressing adopted by others obviously don't lead very interesting lives.
Prashant, Toronto, Canada

This is why we need Muslim schools for our children. It's about time these mainstream schools stopped pretending to be inclusive, they have their own agenda and cannot offer the same level of support to Muslim pupils who wish to practise their religion in a way they believe to be correct.
Sarah C., Birmingham

It is a pity that Ms Begum used her victory to attack the West for "vilifying" Islam, which is clearly not the case; one wonders who encouraged her to make such an inflammatory statement and for what purpose.
Giles, London

I think the ruling is correct, and must set a precedent for all Muslim women to be able wear the Islamic Dress. As a Secondary School teacher I could see no reason for the previous ban to wear the Jilbab (in accordance with school colours) other than being prejudice against Islamic values.
Nozrul, London

As far as I'm aware France and Britain have both signed up to the same European Rights legislation. How can the headscarf ban in France not be in violation of a pupil's human rights but the ban in Britain be in violation?
David, Newport, UK

What's the point of school uniform anyway? School kids are so scruffy and barely stick to the school uniform code. When I was at school the policy was very clear and we had to stick to it.
Lee, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

I think that religion and school should be separate full stop
Andy, Stafford, UK

I think that religion and school should be separate full stop. Choosing the path of blind belief rather than of scientific thought is a very big decision and should not be made until adulthood.
Andy, Stafford, UK

The costume in question is culturally important and is used in certain cultures to discriminate between those who believe and those who do not. Is this what Britain wants? What about those who choose not to wear it? Will they become targets for those who do not support true freedom of choice? I hope not.
Michael, California, USA

I think this is an absolutely correct ruling. We have to allow freedom of religious expression everywhere, including school. Why should schools be their own little universes insulated and abiding by different rules to all other aspects of life? If an employer was to ban the wearing of religious attire there would be popular uproar.

I am not a Muslim but I would defend to the end anybody's right to worship as they choose, no matter how strict or unpalatable to the rest. Shabina Begum is not hurting anybody by wearing a certain type of clothing. It is all down to interpretation and strength of conviction at the end of the day. It's a shame that more kids don't show the same level of integrity that Shabina has shown.
Matthew Cattell, Swindon, UK

I thought I was a tolerant person having lived and worked in three continents. However, I now feel nothing but total contempt for people who come to my country and refuse to accept our laws and behave in this sort of fashion. The Muslim community have been done no favours by this case.
Louise, UK

We have freedom of speech in this country as long as it is PC. We have the right to believe in what ever religion we choose and cater to most beliefs. The school were not saying she could be a Muslim and there are a lot of Muslims who do not feel the need to wear this garment in order to feel close to their God. I think it is sad that religion is about the clothes you wear rather than the attitude you have to others!
Kirstie Slimmon, Swindon

I am shocked that people do not register how much more disruptive this girl's self-expression is in today's political climate
Clare, London

When I have seen students withdrawn from lessons in school for having red streaks in their hair, I am shocked that people do not register how much more disruptive this girl's self-expression is in today's political climate. School uniform rules are there for a reason, to put everyone on a level footing and prevent young people from being singled out as different.

Outside of school, anything goes, which is fair enough; the multicultural society argument should apply once the bell rings at the end of the day, but should not take priority over education and welfare. This just aggravates religious and racial intolerance against Muslims, when they are given special treatment and different rules from the rest of British schoolchildren.
Clare, London

Firstly it was a stupid decision to exclude this girl as her dress has no impact on her academic ability which is all that really matters in school. Secondly, this dress is worn because of a deeply held belief. What next, do we ban poppies on Poppy Day because the pin might prick a finger, do we ban books because they pose a paper cut risk and maybe we should also prevent children from playing football at lunchtime or during PE because of the risk of injury. Is it just me or is the world going safety mad?
Karl Lynch, Belfast, N Ireland

School should be a place for education and education alone. Can we now expect the wearing of skull caps, union jacks, crucifixes to be the norm when in a great deal of the cases, especially in Scotland, religious symbols are worn to antagonise others of differing faiths.
Brian, Edinburgh

Well done Shabina for showing that if you do believe in your religion strong enough to fight for the right to dress accordingly. It is amazing though that a judgement like this, made by a judge with all the facts before him, still bring out the bigots and the whiners. If you believe in something, fight for it, if not don't worry - it's your choice.
George, Boxgrove, UK

It seems to me that this young girl is making a political statement, everyone has rules and policies that we have to adhere to, but now it seems if we don't like what they are then we take it to court as it is against our human rights. Britain is going mad now, it cannot accommodate every wish of our ethnic communities. They wish to live in the UK, but do not wish to follow our rules and regulations.
Alice, Glasgow, Scotland

Either every one wears the correct uniform, or no one wears it
Andy, Leeds, UK
I would now like to see a mass rejection of school uniform by all pupils around the UK. If the system can be proven unlawful just for the sake of one girl and her religion, then I would expect that any pupil should be able to attend wearing anything they please. We cannot continue in this country with these blatant double-standard. Either every one wears the correct uniform, or no one wears it. No compromises.
Andy, Leeds, UK

What was not mentioned in the article is that the school board are mainly Muslim! The board chose suitable attire for the faith. It's time to put this silly case to bed and stop wasting public money. The girl had a Muslim-approved dress option and she chose not to wear it.
Neil, Herts, UK

After seeing Ms Begum's post - court interview on TV, I think she has been used by others who should know better. Sadly, it just adds fuel to the fire of intolerance on both sides.
Helen, Slough, England

Protecting religious rights - great. But is this a religious dress code or a cultural one? If modesty is the issue - there will be many ways to achieve it. If culture is the issue - then the specific costume is crucial. But if it was a cultural issue, would the human rights laws still apply?
Rod, Leicester

I think it is preposterous that this is an issue! I am a Muslim woman and I often wear a jilbab, by choice when I want to, but at school I wear the uniform I was told to! I knew what the uniform was before I started and I was OK with it, I am allowed out of class for prayer and I never saw the need to bring an unnecessary lawsuit to school. All this has done is wasted the time that should be spent learning and it will alienate people from Muslims even more.
Sulfia Hussain, London, England

It's a disgrace! Schools have a uniform and that should be it. Religion should not enter schools - it should be kept home. I lived in Dubai and never imposed my Roman Catholic faith onto anyone. One should not come here and impose one's religious beliefs on someone else
Andrew, London

Schools should be teaching respect for other religious dress codes to prepare students to live in peace and harmony with all
I Balla, Toronto, Canada
We are becoming so sensitive to dressing than under dressing or scantily dressing specially in schools, leading to disrespect of women by men. Besides schools should be teaching respect for other religious dress codes to prepare students to live in peace and harmony with all. Schools in western societies allow children to wear make up and fail to give moral guidance leading to teenage births, wrecking their lives before even beginning their lives. By protecting Shabina Begum's Religious Human Rights and dress code Lord Justice Brooke has set an excellent example who called for more guidance for schools on complying with the Human Rights Act.
I Balla, Toronto, Canada

I believe if you choose a school, you know from the start it has a uniform form policy and you should follow that policy whatever your religious beliefs are. I think from now on we are going to be seeing many more of the cases in the news. It will underline why so many schools are failing to meet government targets because they have to spend their funding on needless court cases instead of where it is needed, the classroom
Gareth Owen, Stamford, England

I don't understand the whole fuss about this in our democracy. After all freedom is freedom in whatever aspect it be - thought, faith, or religion. I would go one step further and request that Muslims be allowed to pray in school premises while preserving the school harmony.
Mohammed, France

Coming from Luton, I know how tolerant, accommodating and indeed successful Denbigh High School is, and so I am irritated at Shabina's victory. I too feel that she has taken this issue too far and is using her personal beliefs to be confrontational. And the words uttered about post-9/11 bigotry and manifesting religious beliefs - do these sound like the words of a 15 year old? I'd like to know who is influencing Shabina to take this action?
Tom Shaw, Luton, UK

Can they not reach a compromise? The school had already agreed to accept an alternative uniform for Muslim students and I'm sure that the Koran doesn't require a particular item of clothing, simply that women cover up. Secondly, the school states that this was a health & safety issue, which seems reasonable. I would think that it's pretty obvious that wearing a jilbab isn't exactly compatible with the woodwork workshops or the science labs.
Adam, Hampshire, UK

We've taken the first step down a very slippery slope
Peter, UK
Shabina should be very careful. By making the precedent that religious beliefs must be upheld we've taken the first step down a very slippery slope. How long will it be before a militant Muslim father argues that its "un-Islamic" for girls to go to school at all?
Peter, UK

The French have a good saying. Vive la difference! We should celebrate our differences. Too many people with differing views think they have the right to tell people how to behave. The girl is dressed nicely and conservatively. Only problem is too many busy-bodies complaining about nothing. Get a life and leave the kid alone.
Mark, London, UK

What this young girl does not seem to realise is that she is being used as a pawn by fundamentalists. Many Muslim women escape from certain countries because they are oppressed and made to cover themselves up. They come to the west for freedom. Nothing in the Koran is written that forces a woman to cover herself. This is just another measure of men degrading women. This young girl has opened up a can of worms.
Annie, Switzerland/ex UK

This ruling is going to crack open a can of worms
Eric Marsden, Reading, UK
Does this now mean that pupils can wear absolutely anything to school as long as you attach it to some sort of system of beliefs? This ruling is going to crack open a can of worms. Britain is in dire need of real secularism, there would be no chance of this nonsense then.
Eric Marsden, Reading, UK

Yet another nail in the coffin for British way life, in favour of other people way of life. This girl said this was victory against ignorance and bigots. Who was she talking about there, her Muslim head teacher who had already allowed Muslim attire to be worn, attire that was sanctioned by the Muslim Council? This decision will cause nothing but more hate.
Steven, Watford

If this is the legal position, I can see only one course of action for the school: abolish all school uniform immediately. It's the only way to be fair to those with other faiths and no faith. I expect the kids will like it and the parents (including those pushing for religious attire) will hate it.
Toby, Worcester, UK

When I was at school, I was told the purpose of a school uniform is to promote a common identity and minimise the differential between haves and have nots. In practice, uniforms have always been "personalised." Is this the beginning of the end for school uniforms?
Andy Millward, Broxbourne, UK

Surely if you believe in yourself, and believe in your faith, what you wear in everyday life, whatever you do and whatever your age, should be irrelevant? I think this ruling does more to promote cultural differences than create the "cultural richness" that the majority of the British population are willing to embrace. What a sad day.
June, UK

If the schools policy was for the children to wear uniforms and they supplied an Islamic version then there is no reason this girl should be allowed to wear her own clothes. There is no discrimination, it is merely the same rule for everyone.
Anon, UK

How on earth did this issue reach the courts and then the Court of Appeal ? A simple case to school clothing, there was none of this stupidity in my day, people wore what they were told to and did not question authority. I wonder where this will lead to?
K, Harrow, England

It's not what she wears that is an issue with me. It was her statement. I fear a widening divide between cultures.
Andrew Morton, Göteborg, Sweden.

I think that if the school's rules already 'provided' for a suitable uniform/attire that is accepted by the Muslim community then it is unfair for Shabina to demand that she be allowed to wear something else (that is not required by her faith - it is optional) - uniform is uniform, to be worn by all.
Mike, New Malden, UK

Get on with the real job of educating pupils
Dave, Canada
The school should find more important windmills to "tilt against".....good teaching and providing an environment of tolerance and caring perhaps? . This kind of "Muslim Bashing will gradually further alienate the moderates and set them all united against the rest of us. When I taught in England our school allowed the Muslims freedom to leave class to pray and also dress in their required manner. The academic record was good and the school, of mixed religion, was in harmony. To fight such a court case costs taxpayers money. Get on with the real job of educating pupils and stop following the "ban this, ban that" bandwagon which seems all too prevalent in the UK.
Dave, Canada

The decision makes a mockery of the agreement that every pupil entered into when joining the school. Are we saying that anyone can back out of agreements they make based on religious beliefs? Living in a western country relies on a degree of give and take - but we shouldn't be creating a split culture where there is one rule for one religious group and one for another.
Harvey, UK

I really feel that this is a bridge too far. How is it ever going to be possible to enforce any kind of discipline in schools now when pupils can take cases to the court after court until it is deemed their right have been infringed, simply because they can't obey simple institutional rules? My sympathies are with the teachers. Disgraceful
Chris, Hartlepool

Students attend schools to study and gain knowledge and not to exhibit their cultural differences. How does it matter what you wear when your entire purpose of attending the school is to study?
P Patel, London

I think if you choose to go to a certain school then you should follow their rules. Obviously you know what the school uniform is like before you enrol so you should not complain or moan about what the rules state. An ankle length gown would be a health and safety risk. I think she should have gone to a school that dealt with Muslim attire in the beginning. The money spent on such a ridiculous court case could have been spent on something more worthy.
Claire, Essex

Why is it that everyone is so opposed to any practice that is specific to Muslims? What is wrong in wearing a simple headdress and a gown? Keep in mind, for Muslims, Islam is a way of life, not just a faith. Their actions are to be determined in accordance to the followings of the religion. I say, those who are opposed to this attire, shouldn't wear it. In turn, they must show tolerance and civility by respecting other people's values and beliefs.
Raza, Asad, Long Beach, USA

This capricious judgement can only fuel more unwanted bigotry
Hodgson, Belgium
Having just returned from Turkey and seen this article, I am bemused. Turkey is a 98% Muslim state, yet I am told that no religious clothing is allowed in the workplace or at school. What extra wisdom has the UK courts and is this not all to do with compensation? This capricious judgement can only fuel more unwanted bigotry.
Hodgson, Belgium

I completely disagree with the decision. A uniform is there for a reason. When are we going to stop bending the rules to suit individuals and start making people comply. If the British Muslim Council approve the uniform already in place why has she been allowed to still wear what she wants. Yet again this is a story of someone using their faith to flaunt the rules. Who paid her legal fees? Was it the good old British tax payer yet again?
Julie, London, England

Yet another victory for people that want to change our way of life. She should stick to school policy and not bring her religion to school. It is time to ban all religion from schools anyway. It is also another good reason to get out of Europe. We cannot continue to allow the European court to overrule our own courts rulings.
Graham Harmsworth, Thatcham, UK

A legally correct decision, albeit a culturally disastrous one
Rustam Roy, London, UK
A legally correct decision, albeit a culturally disastrous one. There is far too much political correctness in the UK and people are too scared to offend Muslims or other religious minorities. France has shown the way to go - in school, keep your religious symbols to yourself. The school had, in any case, a uniform policy in place which satisfied the Islamic authorities - if any pupil wants to go a step further he/she ought to go study at a Muslim school. Muslims seem to increasingly think that all walks of life should adjust to their personal interpretation of Islam and this, in turn, fuels a rightwing backlash from the indigenous population. Judges should not make social policy.
Rustam Roy, London, UK

This is something to be proud of and it shows a better degree of tolerance than France. That said, I don't believe dress has to be tolerated; it has to be accepted.
Kris, Manchester, UK

I think it's a sad day when a school can't enforce a uniform policy. I think we should adopt the French system and have no religion in schools, making everyone dress identically. What the pupils wear out of school is up to them.
Ken Brooke, Middlesbrough, UK

I go to work in the mornings and see young school girls wearing skirts up to their hips which doesn't seem to offend anyone, yet when a girl wants to cover herself the whole legal process is kicks in to stop her? Hello which planet are we living on? I am so glad she won.
Eban Ajmal, London UK

What is more important is the segregation that happens so often both in schools and community. What people wear is taken far too seriously in life. Victorian values still exist. But more important is the environment we should be looking to create whereby people from any background whatsoever can live and work together. In this way we can continue to construct the British 'identity' in any number of ways.
Chris, Aberystwyth, Wales

Why is covering your body and not showing too much skin such an issue?
Farah Malik, Pakistan
In a free country people are free to wear what they want, why can't the same rule be applied on a jilbab? I have yet to see a case in which any student was expelled from school for wearing a short skirt or any indecent dress. Why is covering your body and not showing too much skin such an issue?
Farah Malik, Pakistan

This has far reaching implications for schools wishing to have dress codes. If you can come up with a reason your religion requires you to wear certain clothes, you can avoid school uniform. You can expect members of the Jedi religion to turn up to school in robes, what next?
Doug, Stockport, UK

Public schools should not make clothing exceptions for any religion, political stance, race, or ethnicity. The only exception should be if someone is physically handicapped and due to the disability can not wear the school code. If you don't agree with the school code, go to a private school. The western world is full of immigrants who have left their country for a variety of reasons. Upon coming to a new country, the common understanding is "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." What you do in your home life is a personal decision. But public behaviour should conform with public standards of your new country.
Judy, Atlanta, GA USA

I congratulate both Miss Shabina and the court of law on achieving the right verdict. Rights have to be respected. The courts still have an open mind.
Mohammed Amer, Hyderabad, India

This has been a political point all along
Simon, England
This is the wrong decision. There was local agreement with religious leaders on how to combine religious requirements with a school uniform policy. This has been a political point all along.
Simon, England

I think the French have got it right - you can't wear anything with any religious connotations there at all. All are equal. Religions that suggest woman are 'better' for being covered up worry me anyway.
Justin Rowles

Judging from Shabina Begum's statement post-ruling, it seems this has nothing whatsoever to do with religious dress code, and more to do with contempt for authority on any level. Very worrying trait in a 15 year old, though perhaps to be expected of a youth nowadays, whose appetite for confrontation seems endless.
Tom Willings, Hook, UK

Not bothered one way or the other, but how was this a breach of human rights? It is madness that this catch all rule book is used when real human rights are being abused every day around the world, it only seeks to trivialise the rules and its definition.
Brian Stewart-Coxon, Aberdeenshire

A police officer has to wear uniform, a nurse has to wear uniform, a soldier has to wear uniform. Every pupil, no matter what their culture or religious belief should have to wear uniform, they can wear what they like out of school, but in School, they should wear Uniform. As far as I'm concerned a jilbab is not part of the uniform.
Brendan Chilton, Great Britain

We should be celebrating our cultural richness
Pam Woodhouse, London, UK
Absolutely the right decision by the Court of Appeal. And how refreshing nowadays to see that having won, the claimant was not seeking damages - a far cry from the 'fast buck' mentality we see all too often in this country. Her point was made with a clarity and intelligence that belies her years and I applaud her. We should be celebrating our cultural richness, not seeking to undermine it, which, had Denbigh High School succeeded, would have been achieved.
Pam Woodhouse, London, UK

As a council tax payer in Luton while all this trivial kafuffle was going on, I would like to know how much this has cost the taxpayer (both locally and nationally)!
Richard Harris, Biggleswade

I believe that Shabina Begum has every right to wear Islamic dress under basic human rights which Britain offers to any individual living in the UK. People should understand that Islam, to us, is not just a religion to be followed in "church" but a way of life, so the dress code is part of it, and as long as it doesn't offend anyone, it should be allowed.
Tauqeer M. Latif, Huddersfield

Does this mean, as a practising Jedi Knight, I will be allowed to wear my cape and carry my light sabre to school?
Gary, London, UK

The Court of Appeal has shown good sense. The law exists to protect people, not to interfere with our choices in respect of our own beliefs. Who is this young woman harming?
Ben Drake, York, UK

When I was at school I was banned from wearing my lip ring and nose ring, and sent home for dyeing my hair blue. I can only assume that in the light of this ruling, all pupils will be allowed to dress in a way that they choose, to reflect their own cultural beliefs. Otherwise, why are members of organised religion getting privileges of self-expression that are denied to others?
Kate, London, UK

Live and let live, I say
Ross, Edinburgh
I find some of these comments quite shocking. She should have been allowed to dress however she liked all along, she wasn't doing anybody any harm. Live and let live, I say.
Ross, Edinburgh

Where a school, or any organisation, has undertaken consultation with its community and reached a satisfactory solution it should not be for individuals or judges to try and change this. If an individual does not like the rule then so be it that is, as I understand it, called democracy.
John, Livingston, Scotland

I am saddened by this decision. I agree that one's faith is very important, and one must allow for the right of another to practice their faith, but I've always believed that schools were the great equaliser. Now you have one student who "for personal reasons" chooses to be "different". Why can't she not wear her traditional clothes outside the school and wear "secular" clothing inside?
Arun, The Netherlands

I am a British Muslim who embraced Islam in 1995. I am married to a Muslim woman from a predominately Muslim country, she does not wear a Hijab or Jilbab - that is her choice! I would like her to, as I see it as part of our religion, but as with everything in our religion there is no compulsion! I agree with the comments of Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain when he says that there are many different groups of Muslims in this country who interpret what is (& is not) required of them in different ways. This is tolerated in Islam as long as it abides by the basic rules of Islam. This girl is not "choosing to be different for personal reasons" as stated by Arun from the Netherlands & to tell her to dress Islamically at home & secularly at school shows a total lack of understanding!

This girl has the right to manifest her religious beliefs, I thought Britain was a tolerant, multi-cultural society! Why are people focusing on this rather than the standard of education our children are receiving in the schools! By denying people there right to express their religion in their dress, etc you are only creating problems.
Ibrahim, Reading, UK

Although what you wear is your preference, to wear clothes that will segregate someone religion wise is a choice that leads to alienation. Islam ONLY preaches modesty in dress codes. How you interpret modesty is your own way of thinking. But modesty and moderation are somewhat similar. These things should not even be an issue in a world that stands at a critical junction in its history and continuity.
Saad Khan, Canada

The whole issue should never have taken place
Mark, London
I think the Court of Appeal has made a mistake. The school had already agreed that its Muslim students could wear traditional head dress and this issue was agreed with the Muslim students and a local Muslim Imam, all in keeping with Muslim tradition. I think the girl's motivation is more political as the Jilbab is a garment that is more linked to Arabic cultural dress, as the requirements of Islam do not require women to dress to such extreme measures. The whole issue should never have taken place and only will create more wedges between our society instead of finding some mutual compromise.
Mark, London

I come from a Muslim country. 20-30 years back when I was there, I seldom saw women wearing Hijabs. Some orthodox families would cover their women in a "burqa", the kind we see still women wearing in Afghanistan. Today I see Muslim women wearing Hijabs with heavily made-up faces. I wonder what exactly is the purpose of wearing a hijab? Why not simply wear a burqa if the purpose is to avoid attention of men? To me it is a passing fad. Too much attention to it would only prolong its life.
Irfan Haqqee, Mississauga, ON

What about all the other children in the Muslim community who will now feel under pressure to conform to this ruling? Schools are there to provide an education in an impartial way, and to allow children new experiences so that they can grow and develop. If children are surrounded by similar attitudes at home and at school, then how can they make choices about their futures? Surely the human rights of any child are best served by preserving a secular, unbiased education?
Carmen Eynon Soto, London

I support Shabina, and do so as a Christian. To suggest pupils can wear what they like would be ridiculous, since we would see the girls wearing the same skimpy stuff they wear everywhere else. That this one wants to be seen in modest dress ought to be credit to her - what business is of us to say otherwise?
Graham, Cobham, UK

This is yet another nail in the coffin for British democracy
Martin Fendt, London, UK
I am sickened by the rank hypocrisy. When I lived in Saudi, if my sister and mum had complained about being forced to adopt their dress code, they'd have been on the next plane back (or prison). This is yet another nail in the coffin for British democracy. The sooner we pull out of Europe and all its legal fetters, the better.
Martin Fendt, London, UK

I think it's a win for justice and human rights. All religions must be allowed to practise and live as per their faith without any discrimination. This was not just a case for Islam but for people of all religions.
Bushra Hassan, Oxford

As the article states 79% of the pupils are Muslim, why is she the only one being awkward? Obviously the others can practice their religion outside of school and attend school as pupils should to study. The whole point of uniforms is to help integration of classes and races, and prevent discrimination on these grounds. What does she want?
Duncan, Oldham

Dress codes are central to the maintenance of Middle Eastern honour codes
Michael Lakey, Newcastle
Ms Begum's use of traditional dress is far more than a badge of religious or ethnic identity. Dress codes are central to the maintenance of Middle Eastern honour codes, in which a female's modesty in public is integral to the honour of her male relatives. The more modest one appears to be, the more virtuous one is in comparison to other, less 'traditional', women. Hence, whether she intends this or not, Ms Begum's insistence that she should wear the jilbab entails a value judgement on all of the girls in her school who choose not to wear it.
Michael Lakey, Newcastle

As a Muslim, with English wife and children, I commend the English system for having such tolerance to accommodate all religions and cultures. Way to go. You have set a good example for civilised nations to try to follow.
Nizam Yagoub, Saudi Arabia

I was schooled in England, as were my children. Did we have the 'right' or 'freedom' to wear jeans and t-shirts when the school has a uniform policy? Of course not. It makes no difference if the student is Catholic, Protestant, Hindu or Muslim. A school uniform policy is for everyone.
Malcolm Cook, Blairsville, Ga, USA

What this girl wears to school is her own business
Stephen, London
For God's sake chill out! What this girl wears to school is her own business, provided it meets reasonable standards of practicality and decency. Does everyone in this benighted country hate and fear freedom?
Stephen, London

Why is it that we have to make accommodation for the cultural preferences of the various ethnic or religious minority groups in this country while there is no reciprocal consideration given? If my daughter were to attend school in Saudi Arabia she would be expected to adopt local dress and customs without argument, and certainly no chance to contest the case in a human rights court.
Ronald, Nuneaton, England

I am delighted at the Court of Appeal's decision. This girl wants to stick to her religious values and be educated. Why should she have to make a choice between the two? And with regards to the comments of Ronald in Nuneaton, British Muslims here have no control over what happens in Saudi Arabia. So we should not be punished for that.
D Marikar, Cambridge

This ruling teaches nothing other than if you shout loud enough you can get what you want despite others' feelings. Selfishness appears to be the order of the day.
James Fortune, Purley, Surrey

Considering the school offered an alternative uniform approved by Britain's Muslim Council, the Court of Appeals ruling was wrong. For Shabina herself, getting through high school is difficult enough without having to deal with the resentment this decision will likely create.
Patrick, Canada

This ruling underlines the need to establish a secular state in Britain as in France. If we go on pandering to the demands of all the religions, we'll end up losing all our real human rights to fundamentalists. Traditions are not sacred, they are social habits, which can and do change throughout history. Law and morality cannot and must not be based on myth and superstition, which after all is what all religions are.
Bill Wilcox, NW London, UK

I feel that Ms Begum simply used her faith as an excuse to openly disregard rules
Nadia, London
I am disappointed that the Court of Appeal has overturned the ruling. As a British Muslim I wore the Shalwar Kameez at school as did the majority of Muslims. I feel that Ms Begum simply used her faith as an excuse to openly disregard rules.
Nadia, London

School is a place to learn, not to flaunt your religious beliefs. I attend church every week. However, I would not consider it right or appropriate to send my child to school to promote his religious beliefs in the form of dress or insignias. Consideration must be shown for the sensitivities of those who do not believe the same as I do. The jilbab is a very overt symbol of a particular religious belief. Gordon
Gordon, Haddenham

This judgement is utterly unfair on the other female Muslim children who are now going to be under increasing pressure from the Islamic leaders to wear a jilbab at school. When will people realise that religion and education should not mix?
John Harper, Huddersfield

I think we're all forgetting that we live in a multicultural society. We are slowly but surely learning to accept each others' colour differences so why not dress differences, value differences, cultural differences? Does it really matter what a person wears as long as they feel comfortable and happy.
Nadia, UK

Education has nothing to do with what we wear
Mat, Leicester
I am disgusted, I moved to this country 20 years ago and never questioned the right for its own rule and laws. Education has nothing to do with what we wear, this is a clear case of them and us and will widen the gap and create racial intolerance.
Mat, Leicester

Excellent news for all Muslims in the UK. The English legal system has worked in giving this girl the freedom to practise her religion.
Mr N. Adam, London UK

Perhaps we should all just give up doing any thing useful and become lawyers.
Brian, UK

This should never have gone to court. If Ms Begum wants to be oppressed and cover herself, why doesn't she go to a hardline Muslim country? I am sick and tired of the taxpayers' money being wasted on religious issues such as these. This country should adopt the French way in that any religious symbols are banned at school.
Sue Hudson, London, UK

I am disappointed she won the case. As an ex-Denbigh High pupil, I feel that everybody should stick to the rules and wear the school uniform. People like Shabina Begum are ruining race-relations in this country.
Sunjay, London

In a multicultural society where the government is stressing tolerance to different backgrounds, races and religions, I feel that schools should be at the forefront of this education. As long as the clothing is not causing offence to anyone, it should be allowed. The rules of school and workplace should be updated to reflect society's progress.
Ibrahim, UK

It's allowing girls to express their religious rights
N. Hussain, Newcastle, UK
Even though Muslim girls don't have to wear the strict jilbab, a minority of girls will want to. Their interpretation of their religious beliefs which affects no-one else should be respected. This ruling is not a free for all as far as dress is concerned - it's allowing girls to express their religious rights.
N. Hussain, Newcastle, UK

Within the existing human rights legislative framework this young lady was bound to win eventually. The next test will centre on the right to wear the niqab (full Islamic veil). Watch this space.
Jon, London, UK

Ms Begum's argument would hold more weight if her gown was indeed a traditional Muslim costume. It is not, and the Muslim Council accept that shalwar kameez is acceptable and modest dress. The school was right and I am disappointed that the Court of Appeal have overturned the original ruling.
Kate, Exeter

Who is liable if Ms Begum trips over her full-length gown and hurts herself?
Jon Baldwin, Manchester, UK

This is another politically correct joke, why do we pander to all and sundry? Other Muslims have accepted the school uniform, what makes her so special?
James, UK

Either comply with school rules including uniform or stay away. No ifs or buts, same rules for everyone, no exceptions or where will it all end? Time we get rid of this ridiculous 'human rights' legislation, it's causing more problems than it's worth.
David, England

This judgement will open a can of worms! Does this not infringe on the rights of those who are forced to wear a uniform?
Jay Kandy, London, England

Has this Human Rights law actually done this country any good apart from line the pockets of lawyers and make our traditions unlawful?
Matt, Doncaster, England

Fine, all school uniform is stupid anyway so why not allow people to wear what they want. After all, school uniform is merely an attempt to make children believe that conformity is natural.
Jack, Essex

Muslim gown schoolgirl wins case
02 Mar 05 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Headscarves: contentious cloths
26 Sep 03 |  Europe
Viewpoint: Why I decided to wear the veil
17 Sep 03 |  Have Your Say


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