British hijab-wearing judge mistaken for interpreter

Raffia Arshad, 40, was appointed deputy district judge on the Midlands circuit last week. (St. Mary’s Family Law Chambers)
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Updated 29 May 2020

British hijab-wearing judge mistaken for interpreter

  • Arshad is one of the first hijab-wearing judges in the UK
  • She said she did not take the advice of a relative who told her not to wear her hijab at an interview for a scholarship at the Inns of Court School of Law in 2001

LONDON: A newly appointed British hijab-wearing judge has spoken of how she was recently mistaken for an interpreter by a court usher.
Raffia Arshad, 40, who was appointed deputy district judge on the Midlands circuit last week, said the incident, which took place before she became a judge, shows the level of discrimination that exists in the legal profession.
Arshad, who was appearing in court as a barrister, told Metro newspaper that an usher asked her whether she was an interpreter, and that when she said no, he asked whether she was “here on work experience,” to which she replied: “No, I’m actually the barrister.”
She told Metro: “I have nothing against the usher who said that, but it reflects that as a society, even for somebody who works in the courts, there is still this prejudicial view that professionals at the top end don’t look like me.”
Arshad, who is one of the first hijab-wearing judges in the UK, said she did not take the advice of a relative who told her not to wear her hijab at an interview for a scholarship at the Inns of Court School of Law in 2001.
The family law barrister succeeded at the interview and was given “a considerable scholarship.”
She told Metro: “I decided that I was going to wear my headscarf because for me it’s so important to accept the person for who they are, and if I had to become a different person to pursue my profession, it’s not something I wanted.”
As of April 1, 2019, only 7 percent of court judges in England and Wales were from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (out of those whose ethnicity was known). Around 30 percent of court judges were women.
Arshad will begin sitting part-time on the Midland circuit later this year, and will continue to practice from St. Mary’s Family Law Chambers, where she has worked as a barrister for the last 15 years.


Priest who shared stage with Modi tests positive; India sees record number of cases

Updated 1 min 46 sec ago

Priest who shared stage with Modi tests positive; India sees record number of cases

  • Nritya Gopal Das, an 82-year-old Hindu priest, was the latest public figure to test positive
  • Television footage showed Modi holding Das’ hands and bowing before him

LUCKNOW, India: India reported another record jump in its surging coronavirus cases on Thursday with nearly 67,000 new infections, among them a religious leader who shared a stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a ceremony to launch construction of a grand temple.
Nritya Gopal Das, an 82-year-old Hindu priest, was the latest public figure to test positive after a string of Modi’s top cabinet colleagues were stricken with COVID-19, including interior minister Amit Shah.
With Thursday’s jump of 66,999 cases India now has nearly 2.4 million infections, according to the Health Ministry, behind only the United States and Brazil. For the last fortnight, it has been reporting 50,000 cases or more each day as it opens up the country after a months-long lockdown. Its COVID-19 death toll stands at 47,033.
Modi and Das were among 170 people who attended the Aug. 5 launch of the temple construction in the northern town of Ayodhya.
Dr. Murli Singh, director of information in Ayodhya, said Das had tested positive and was being moved to a hospital near Delhi. But he added that at the time of the ceremony the priest tested negative and so had not posed an infection risk to Modi.
Television footage showed Modi held Das’ hands and bowed before him. Modi’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Singh said people invited for the launch were all clear of the virus at the time.
“Guidelines were sent to all that only COVID-19 negative people will be allowed in the ceremony,” he said, adding doctors on the ground in Ayodhya had run tests before the event started.
The planned temple at Ayodhya is on a disputed site where Hindu groups have campaigned for decades.
Separately on Wednesday, a government committee said that the country would utilize its large vaccine manufacturing capacity to urgently deliver any potential COVID-19 vaccine to its neighbors and low-income countries.