British court rules Islamic faith school’s segregation “unlawful”

Al-Hijrah School in Birmingham
Updated 13 October 2017
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British court rules Islamic faith school’s segregation “unlawful”

DUBAI: Britain’s school inspectors have won the right to challenge an Islamic faith school’s policy of segregating boys and girls after three appeal court judges ruled it was unlawful sex discrimination.

The decision overturns last year’s finding by a High Court judge that inspectors from the country’s school watchdog Ofsted were wrong to penalize the co-ed Al-Hijrah school in Birmingham.

The inspectors had previous reported that the segregation of the pupils left them “unprepared for life in modern Britain.”

It was also reported that inspectors found “offensive” books in the school’s library that advocated wife beating and forced sex – local media reported.

The school is not challenging the claims laid against it regarding the books.

The three judges ruled unanimously on Friday that Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman be allowed to challenge the previous decision by Mr.Justice Jay in the High Court.

Ofsted grades schools based on a number of criteria that include the students achievements and the overall teaching standards, but also the environment in which children are educated.

Friday’s court ruling means Ofsted will be allowed to mark down other schools which operate a segregation policy, whatever the faith.

The appeal judges said: “It is common ground that the school is not the only Islamic school which operates such a policy and that a number of Jewish schools with a particular Orthodox ethos and some Christian faith schools have similar practices.”


Singapore’s deaf ‘bird whisperer’ forms rare bond with feathered friends

Updated 24 April 2018
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Singapore’s deaf ‘bird whisperer’ forms rare bond with feathered friends

SINGAPORE: Deaf since childhood, Razali Bin Mohamad Habidin has developed a closer bond with the creatures under his care than any other keeper at Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park, where other staff refer to him simply as the “bird whisperer.”
Razali, who lost 80 percent of his hearing after falling ill as a baby, started working at the park over two decades ago, and has risen to the position of deputy head avian keeper.
He communicates with the birds through grunts, gestures and body languages and said that he recognizes the birds by their “behaviors and personalities.”
“All of them are my friends,” he added, communicating through a mix of gestures and Malay.
Other staff at the park have dubbed the 48-year-old “the bird whisperer” — after Hollywood film “The Horse Whisperer,” starring Robert Redford as a trainer with a gift for understanding horses.
“He has a way of communicating with the birds that very few of us can,” said assistant curator Angelin Lim. “Just by a look, he knows whether or not the bird is well.”
Communication with his colleagues can be more challenging than with the birds.
Razali leads about a dozen staff and giving them instructions usually involves him making various complex hand gestures, and then reading the lips of his colleagues when they respond.
His way with the creatures at the park, which is home to more than 5,000 birds from parrots to hornbills, was on display as he brought a snack of palm fruits into an enclosure filled with parrots.
The hyacinth macaws, the world’s largest parrots, stopped squawking and watched him curiously before following him.
One of the giant birds perched on his shoulder, playfully rubbed his finger with its beak — a sign of trust and affection — and ate out of his hand.