Woman in burqa denied entrance to Utrecht clinic

A Muslim woman was denied entrance to the examination room at a Utrecht first aid clinic because she was wearing a burqa.

The 23-year old woman visited the clinic with her three month old baby on Christmas day. Reports indicated that the doctor was willing to treat the baby with the father but would not allow the mother to be present in the examining room.

The clinic has announced that it regrets the incident and is investigating what happened.

Lawyer acquitted for refusing to stand in Dutch courtroom

Dutch lawyer Mohammed Enait has been acquitted of contempt of court by the Bar Association’s disciplinary council.

Enait argues that as a Muslim his religious belief maintains that everyone is equal, and thus that he will not stand during court cases when the judge enters the courtroom.

Enait was also reprimanded for wearing an Islamic head covering during sessions and for showing contempt of a judge in a TV talkshow.

He was acquitted on all three charges on Friday.

Request for women-only swimming hour in Amsterdam

A group of women in Amsterdam are seeking a women-only swimming session at an Amsterdam pool, Telegraaf reports. The women wear burkinis to swim but do not want their hands and feet to be visible should men be present. Local councillor Egbert de Vries argued that the pool already has a one-hour naked swimming session for men and should perhaps consider having a women-swimming session as well.

French Confusion On Meaning of Burqa, Niqab and Hijab

As the debate rages on in France over burqa, an outfit covering the whole body from head to toe and wore by some Muslim women, Muslims believe the fuss has served to highlight one scary fact; that French people don’t know a burqa from a niqab and hijab. The furor was sparked in France since Communist MP Andre Gerin proposed a parliamentary probe into what he describes as the rising number of Muslims who wear burqa.

But the debate saw politicians, opponents and advocates of the burqa using interchanged terms such as burka and niqab, despite the fact they describe very different types of Islamic dress.

John R. Bowen, a professor of anthropology who has been asked to testify by the parliamentary commission, agrees that there is confusion in France over the issue of burqa.

Bowen does not think there will be a law banning the niqab. Nor does Yazid Sabeg, Mr. Sarkozy’s commissioner for diversity and equal opportunity, who said it would be unenforceable.

‘I could scream with happiness. I’ve given hope and strength to Muslim women’; Schoolgirl tells Guardian of her battle to wear Islamic dress

By Dilpazier Aslam A schoolgirl who yesterday won the right to wear the Islamic shoulder-to-toe dress in school said the landmark ruling would “give hope and strength to other Muslim women”. In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Shabina Begum, 16, described the court of appeal verdict against Denbigh high school in Luton as a victory for all Muslims “who wish to preserve their identity and values despite prejudice and bigotry”. After a two-year campaign by Shabina, Lord Justice Brooke found her former school had acted against her right to express her religion by excluding her because she insisted on wearing the jilbab. The ruling, overturning a high court decision which dismissed her application for a judicial review last year, will affect every school in the country. Almost a year after the French government banned “conspicuous” religious symbols, including the hijab, in schools, the judge called on the Department for Education to give British schools more guidance on how to comply with their obligations under the Human Rights Act. “I really feel like screaming out of happiness,” said Shabina, who was represented at the court of appeal by Cherie Booth QC. “I don’t regret wearing the jilbab at all. I’m happy that I did this. I feel that I have given hope and strength to other Muslim women. “I also feel a bit sad when I think why couldn’t this judgment have been made two years ago? In the end it’s my loss. No one else has lost anything.” Shabina had worn the shalwar kameez [trousers and tunic] from when she entered the school at the age of 12 until September 2002, when she decided it was against the tenets of her religion. When Denbigh refused her request to wear the jilbab, she was excluded, becoming the reluctant poster girl of a campaign that has been reported in 137 countries. “I thought it would be acceptable to wear because most people at the school are Muslim,” she said. “Then when I was refused I thought a month maximum. Then it just carried on. I get recognised when I go out and other people point to me. They say, ‘Are you that girl?'” Denbigh high school, which has a 79% Muslim intake, said it had lost on a technicality and the school was proud of its multi-faith policy. It said in a statement that it takes into account the cultural and religious sensitivities of pupils. Girls at the school were permitted to wear skirt, trousers or a shalwar kameez and headscarves, which complied with school uniform requirements. The statement said: “The policy was agreed by the governing body following wide consultation with the DfES, pupils, parents, schools and leading Muslim organisations.” The local education authority, Luton borough council, said all schools would now be advised to take pupils’ religion into account when imposing dress rules. Shabina, who was forced to switch to a school that did not prevent Muslim girls from wearing the jilbab, said her campaign had taken its toll. “I can’t be normal with friends if I do not go to school with them. I feel like my social skills have really been lacking. I do not really have many friends at my new school.” At times, even some of her peers cast doubt on her case. “Some of my friends said to me, ‘It’s not an obligation, why are you going to get yourself excluded because of it?’ I said that it is – look at verse number 3.59,” she said referring to the Qur’anic passage which she believes obliges Muslim women to cover their bodies bar their hands and face. In April last year Shabina’s mother died, a month before she lost her case at the high court. Excluded from school and fighting a daunting legal battle, she said the 12 months leading up to her mother’s death were the worst of her life. Her initial defeat did not come as a complete surprise. “Our solicitors told us we only had a 5% chance of winning the case because it’s a radical judgment. They would prefer the court of appeal to do that. After I heard that I felt like I had nothing else to lose.” In a statement after the judgment, Shabina added: “Today’s decision is a victory for all Muslims who wish to preserve their identity and values despite prejudice and bigotry.” She said the school’s decision has been “a consequence of an atmosphere that has been created in western societies post-9/11, an atmosphere in which Islam has been made a target for vilification in the name of the ‘war on terror’.” She told the Guardian: “I hope in years to come policy-makers will take note of a growing number of young Muslims who, like me, have turned back to our faith after years of being taught that we needed to be liberated from it. “Our belief in our faith is the one thing that makes sense of a world gone mad, a world where Muslim women, from Uzbekistan to Turkey, are feeling the brunt of policies guided by western governments. I feel I’ve made people question the jilbab issue again. “Both France and Britain are calling for freedom and democracy, but something as simple as the jilbab still takes two years to get okayed.”

Press Release: The Right To Wear Jilbab Should Be Respected

The Muslim Council of Britain views today’s landmark decision in the High Court to deny a fifteen year old Muslim schoolgirl in Luton her right to wear the jilbab to school as very worrying and objectionable. The British Muslim community is a diverse community in terms of the interpretation and understanding of their faith and its practice. Within this broad spectrum those that believe and choose to wear the jilbab and consider it to be part of their faith requirement for modest attire should be respected. “We hope that the family of Miss Shabina Begum will appeal against this ruling. Many other schools have willingly accommodated Muslim schoolgirls wearing the jilbab and have respected the religious practice of their pupils with reference to their attire. While Denbigh High School has accommodated other forms of Islamic dress, for some reason the school has chosen to make jilbab an issue. This should not really have been a concern in a school which has a Muslim pupil composition of almost 90%. Our schools need to respond positively to recognise and reflect the communities they are serving. This particular school opposed the jilbab on health and safety grounds. This appears to us to be a highly spurious justification. How many women have suffered injury because they have chosen to wear the Jilbab in or out of schools?” said Dr Abdul Bari, Deputy Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. Note for Editors: The arabic word “Jilbab” refers to a loose outer garment that covers the body. The Muslim Council of Britain (www.mcb.org.uk) is the UK’s representative Muslim umbrella body with over 400 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.