Friday, March 04, 2005

Are we so intolerant?

Celebrating the legal ruling allowing her the right to wear the jilbab - a long outer garment favoured by some Muslims, Shabina Begum read out a long statement condemning the "prejudice and bigotry" of western society.

I rather think that a society which allows a 17 year old to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money on a legal battle over school uniform is remarkably, indeed overly tolerant.

There are many countries in the world where women of any age have no legal rights whatsoever. Had Ms Begum been living in such a place she would not have been given any more than a rudimentary education and would been the victim of a forced marriage many years before reaching her late teens.

Having won her case I hope she will be as outspoken in defence of the rights of any of her peers who may now be "encouraged" by their families to wear the jilbab against their wishes.


Blogger Serf said...

As someone who grew up in school uniform and believes in the concept of free choice, I am suprised that we can have a situation where a court can decide what a girl can or cannot wear to school.

Free schools from central control and put their headmasters back in charge.

3:47 AM  
Blogger David Davies AM said...

Good point.

4:11 PM  
Blogger David said...

Let me see... you seem to suggest that, as some countries are less liberal than the UK, then every current circumstance and custom in the UK must be supported without challenge. And only some citizens of the UK (Assembly Members, say, but certainly not teenagers) should be permitted to use the 'overly tolerant' law

Have I got your argument right?

5:37 PM  
Blogger David Davies AM said...

I don't think anybody should be using the Human Rights Act it is a disaster. I do think that Ms Begum could have acknowledged that the country she lives in is one of the most tolerant in the world.

12:49 AM  
Blogger Anthropax said...

"I rather think that a society which allows a 17 year old to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money on a legal battle over school uniform is remarkably, indeed overly tolerant."
So only those that can afford it should be able to fight for what they belive in?

5:39 AM  
Blogger David Davies AM said...

I'm sure that if the Muslim community felt that strongly about the need to wear a jilbab they could have raised the money themselves to fight this case.

Do you really believe that a school classroom is the place for emphasising religious differences? Surely we should be trying to get all pupils feel a sense of shared loyalty.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Rhys Wynne said...

I had to wear an uniform at school ( a brown one at that!) which I wasn't best pleased about, but there is a reason behind it. It was to do with maintaining dicipline, and so that kids from less well off families wouldn't feel embarassed at not having expensive clothing/footwaer - at least this is what we were told and I see the logic behind it.
This person's claim that not allowing pupils to wear the clothes of thier choice means she was being being surpressed is nonsense. I don't always agree with what you have to say David but I agree with you here (although I don't see the relevence of comparisons with other less libral countries).

8:27 AM  
Blogger David Davies AM said...

Well I'll quit while I'm ahead!!

Isn't someone going to get steamed up over my figures on mine closures? I thought this would draw a few comments but so far no takers.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Claire Smalley said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Claire Smalley said...

Surely if she wants to jilbab that is her view and surely we are impossing our religious views on her by not allowing her to do so. I think it took allot of stamina to stand up for what she believes in and good on her

Also you are implying that muslim girls are force to wear jilbab when in most cases it is not the case. Surely you are stereotyping Islamic women to being downtrotten and submistive, which is what to imply the Labour party of doing. Most Islamic women I have meet are outspoken and intelligent, and state that wearing jilbab makes them feel liberated because they are being judged by how they act and what they say instead of what they look like underneath

Do you think that turbans should be banned from the army? Surely that is of the same issue

1:35 PM  
Blogger Anthropax said...

Hurrah! very good point Claire

2:19 PM  
Blogger David said...

As for Muslim women being more or less oppressed. We might try to distinguish between the patriarchal and sexist cultures in which many Muslims live and the teachings of the Koran but interpretation is always in the hands of the (male) clerics and it's difficult to keep an eye on the difference.

Try driving in Saudi Arabia, Claire, and tell me that women feel liberated from having to sit behind the wheel (oh, and you won't be able to vote for a change in the law, either). Or live in Pakistan where the male literacy rate is about 60% and the female liteacy rate 30%.

Best not confuse unfortunate cultural habits and hangovers with a religion's teaching. There's nothing in the Koran that imposes the jilbab, AFAIK.

2:46 AM  
Blogger Glyn said...

Its a freedom of religion issue and what is more the court did not even say that it was wrong for the school to ban them. Just that it had to have a decent reason for banning them and that it would have been a good idea to consult people before doing so. Is that so wrong?

Followers of the Sikh religion are wearing a turban even when riding a motorcycle, it follows that it accepted practice in this country that clothing can be part of your religion and as long as its not unreasonable it should allowed.

P.S. Just found your blog for the first time.

4:53 AM  

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