Parent fights over child’s veil

A parent in England has begun legal action against his daughter’s school because it will not allow her to wear a veil which covers most of her face.

The Buckinghamshire school, which cannot be named, allows its 100 Muslim pupils to wear headscarves.

But the father of a 12-year-old pupil wants her to wear the niqab, covering the whole face except for the eyes.

The local council says the school might be forced to back down because of the high cost of the legal proceedings.

Buckinghamshire County Council says it has been advised the cost would be up to £500,000 and is considering whether it would it be right to fight the case as it would mean cutting funds to other schools and services.

The girl involved has not been excluded from the secondary school but has been asked not to come wearing the niqab.

The school says the full face veil does not comply with its uniform code because it hampers communication.

Legal costs

The pupil, who joined the school in September, has not been in lessons since October. She has had some tuition at home.

Her father is seeking a ruling through a judicial review in the High Court in London. The family and the school cannot be identified for legal reasons.

A hearing is due early next month to decide whether the review should go ahead.

However, there are doubts about whether the school will be able to defend its position.

Buckinghamshire County Council is reluctant to meet the legal costs even though it supports the school’s decision, saying there are more pressing demands on its funds.

It says the school has been trying hard to reach a compromise with the girl’s parents.

The councillor in charge of the county’s schools, Marion Clayton, said: “I can confirm that a parent has asked for a judicial review regarding his daughter not being allowed to attend a Buckinghamshire school wearing a niqab.

“Neither the school nor this council feel it is appropriate to comment on the issues of the case until the review, if any, has taken place.

“We have been working with the school throughout to try and achieve a resolution in the best interests of the pupil and the school.”

Last year, the Law Lords ruled that a Luton school was justified in banning the jilbab, a long gown, but it took a lengthy legal battle before this was established.

Government guidance says schools can decide their own uniform code in consultation with the community.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday January 26, 2007.
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