A Muslim girl could not attend her school for the last two years because she could not wear the Jilbab banned by her school. Jilbab is considered to be a health and safety hazard and is likely to lead to an unhealthy competition among its pupils to dress more Islamically. The High Court upheld the decision of the school which is worrying and objectionable in the opinion of the MCB. The ruling is “a regrettable limitation of personal freedom”, according to the Daily Telegraph. The school has 90% Muslim girls and a western educated Muslim head teacher who had imposed the ban to prevent students from falling prey to extremist groups. She wanted to protect other Muslim pupils from fundamentalists. It is a multi-cultural and multi-faith secular school which is not suitable for bilingual Muslim girls. They need Muslim community school with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models. In the opinion of Fiona MacTaggert MP, the native teachers do not have the linguistic skills or relevant social and theological know-how to tackle the issues of the Muslim pupils in secular state schools.
State funded Muslim school with Muslim teachers is a proper place for Muslim children than a secular multi-faith school. The case should not have gone to court in the first place. The school should have tolerated what she wears as long as it is the same colour as the school uniform and the whole matter should have been sorted out as a community matter. School has accommodated other forms of Islamic dress. Jilbab is acceptable in other British schools and it is the uniform of Feversham College Bradford, the first state funded Muslim school. The school’s arguments are bogus and reminiscent of the arguments that used to be put forward prior to 1997 to prevent Islamic schools from gaining state funded status. Respect and tolerance of Muslims is essential for positive community cohesion.
State funded Muslim schools are not divisive; they are beacons of excellence academically, spiritually and morally. They provide a powerful structure for students to pursue their education. Curriculum infused with Islamic teaching allows students to explore their beliefs and cultural backgrounds more fully, an opportunity they would not have in a multi-faith state school. A deeper exploration of Islamic beliefs and history produces young Muslims who are willing and able to serve as responsible and knowledgeable ambassadors of Islam in the British multicultural society. State schools LEAs and the DFES are not in a position to educate Muslim pupils because they do not have enough bilingual Muslim teachers, governors and policy makers. Islam is a maker of identity and belonging rather than a system of belief.