Shabina Begum was a pupil at Denbigh High School, in Luton, Bedfordshire, England, who claimed she had a right to wear a jilbab (a long gown) to school (which she believed was required by her Muslim faith), in contravention of the school uniform policy. The school stated that she was required to attend school dressed in the correct uniform, and Begum refused to attend for three years unless she was allowed to wear the jilbab.
The headmistress and 79% of the pupils at Denbigh High School were [culturally] Muslims. In addition to uniforms incorporating trousers or skirts, female pupils are also offered a uniform based on the Pakistani or Punjabi shalwar kameez with optional khimar. The school uniform was decided upon in consultation with local mosques and parents. Despite this, in the opinion of Begum and her supporters, the particular form of shalwar kameez offered by the school was relatively close-fitting with short sleeves, and was therefore not compliant with the requirements of Islamic dress that appear to be stated in Sharia law. In addition, the jilbab is, in the opinion of Begum and her supporters, a more culturally-neutral form of Islamic attire. Begum was of Bangladeshi descent, where shalwar kameez is the traditional dress.
The school's supporters had claimed that after Begum's parents had died, she had come under the undue influence of her brother Shuweb Rahman, a supporter of the radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. They also argued that if Begum was allowed to attend classes wearing jilbab, other pupils would feel under pressure to adopt stricter forms of Islamic dress [total crap in my opinion---what a cop out---just because other students are allowed to wear a plaid mini skirt does Begum feel the need to adopt a stricter type of Western-dress?????!]
Begum, with her brother, issued a claim for judicial review of the school's decision not to allow her to wear the jilbab at school. The claim was made on the grounds that the school had interfered with her right to manifest her religion and her right to education (both rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights). Begum lost the case in the High Court, but later won on appeal to the Court of Appeal. The school appealed against this decision, and the case was heard by the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords. The Department for Education and Skills was allowed to make submissions in the hearing in the House of Lords. The House of Lords ruled in favour of the school. Begum was represented in the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords by Cherie Blair(Booth) QC.
Lord Bingham of Cornhill stressed at the outset of his judgment that "this case concerns a particular pupil and a particular school in a particular place at a particular time. It must be resolved on facts which are now, for purposes of the appeal, agreed. The House is not, and could not be, invited to rule on whether Islamic dress, or any feature of Islamic dress, should or should not be permitted in the schools of this country". The Law Lords took the view that a person's right to hold a particular religious belief was absolute (i.e. could not be interfered with), but that a person's right to manifest a particular religious belief was qualified (i.e. it could be interfered with if there was a justification). 3 of the 5 Law Lords held that Begum's rights had not been interfered with (Lord Bingham, Lord Scott of Foscote and Lord Hoffmann), and 2 held that they had (Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead and Baroness Hale of Richmond). All 5 agreed, however, that in this particular case there were justifiable grounds for interference, one of the grounds being to protect the rights of other female students at the school who would not wish to be pressured into adopting a more extreme form of dress (again, what a load of crap).
***I had to add, first off non-muslims on this thread, you don't have a clue about the requirements of Islamic clothing (I mean, you have studied the dress of the Sahaba, what the Prophet Mohammed sallalahu alahi wa salaam told people to wear, or even what the Qu'ran i.e God commanded Muslim women in the form of clothing?) The Qu'ran does command Muslim women to wear the jilbab. It says "believing women, pull your jilbab over yourself". It is a command from God, part of the religion, and anyone who will not let a woman get a job or go to school because of khimar or jilbab is discriminating against her religion. JILBAB is considered a fard (obligatory) thing for a Muslim woman to wear by ALL FOUR Islamic schools of thought (Maliki, Shaffi, Hanbali, and Hanafi) so regardless of what her Indian/Pakistani/Bangleshi culturally "muslim" school thought, it is under shariah a command that any judicial body in Islam would decide upon. Shalwar kameez has no basis in Islam and is a cultural dress (Shabina herself calls shalwar her own cultural dress as she is bangladeshi) but it IS NOT an islamic dress. Jilbab is. A khimar is allowed at Shabina's old school (alhamdulilah) but asking a Muslim woman who has read the Qu'ran where God commands a woman to wear jilbab to wear a shalwar is the same asking her to wear a plaid mini skirt. It is forcing her to disobey God and forsake her religion. There are alot of cultural or misinformed Muslims that say a headscarf (khimar) is enough but it isn't. Jilbab was commanded BEFORE khimar was in the Qu'ran, when you study it. Please have an Islamic education before you call people names like "idiots" especially a brave girl liek Shabina that stands up to discrimination. I tell a black man that he can't be black and sit on my park bench. There are plenty other park benches where black people are allowed to sit that aren't this one. Think about it. Discrimination is discrimination, and no, a "muslim" headmistress that doesn't know that jilbab is a fard requirement is def. a cultural muslim, rather than an Islamically educated one. Shalwar kameez is also popular on a cultural muslim population that says women shouldn't come to the Masjids. That has nothing to do with Islam the same way shalwar kameez has nothing to do with Islam.