UK school threatens court action against Muslim girl’s family over ‘too long’ skirt

UK school threatens court action against Muslim girl’s family over ‘too long’ skirt
The freedom to openly practice religion, including by wearing chosen clothing, is a protected right in the UK. (Getty Images)
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Updated 11 January 2021

UK school threatens court action against Muslim girl’s family over ‘too long’ skirt

UK school threatens court action against Muslim girl’s family over ‘too long’ skirt
  • Siham Hamud, 12, was sent home every day in December over uniform dispute
  • ‘I feel confused and annoyed that I can’t wear what I want for my religion’

LONDON: A British school has threatened the family of a Muslim student with legal action for refusing to send her to school with a shorter skirt, the Daily Mail newspaper reported on Monday.

Siham Hamud, 12, had been wearing an ankle-length skirt to Uxbridge High School for years, but was last month told that her clothing broke its uniform rules.

Her father said she was sent home from school to change every day in December, and told to come back wearing the correct uniform, but she refused on the basis of her religious beliefs.

The school mandates that girls wear black trousers or a black pleated skirt from official suppliers, which the family says falls above the knee.

A letter sent by the school to the family said: “Siham’s absence is being recorded as unauthorised. Unauthorised absence may result in a fine being issued, or legal action being taken against the adults who have parental responsibility or day-to-day care of your child. Legal action can be in the form of a penalty notice or a summons to the magistrates’ court.”

Hamud and her family have refused to budge, saying the policy violates her rights to freedom of religion.

“My daughter is being denied an education because of her religious beliefs,” her father said. “All Siham wants to do is to wear a skirt which is a few centimeters longer than her classmates, and I don’t know why the school has such a problem with this. She isn’t going to change her beliefs in an hour.”

Hamud said she normally likes school, but the dispute has started to affect her experience and education.

“I think they should just let me wear my school uniform to school. I like school normally, and English, drama and RE (religious education) are my favorite lessons, but I couldn’t attend,” she added.

“I find it annoying because I’ve missed a month of school, so I have to catch up a lot. I feel confused and annoyed that I can’t wear what I want for my religion. I hope they’ll change their rules so that girls like me wear skirts to school. They aren’t accepting me for my religion, and that’s wrong.”

The freedom to openly practice religion, including by wearing chosen clothing, is a protected right in the UK, but schools have intermittently found themselves embroiled in controversies when that freedom clashes with uniform rules.

Nigel Clemens, Uxbridge High School’s principal, said: “This matter is currently subject to examination through the formal school complaints policy. It would therefore not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”


Netherlands anti-curfew protests spark clashes with police, looting

In this image made from video, a COVID-19 testing center is seen after being set on fire in Urk, 80 kilometers northeast of Amsterdam, on Jan. 23, 2021. (Pro News via AP)
Updated 25 January 2021

Netherlands anti-curfew protests spark clashes with police, looting

In this image made from video, a COVID-19 testing center is seen after being set on fire in Urk, 80 kilometers northeast of Amsterdam, on Jan. 23, 2021. (Pro News via AP)
  • Vehicles burned, businesses at Eindhoven’s central train station looted
  • A Covid-19 testing center was set on fire on Saturday evening in the village of Urk

THE HAGUE: Protests against a curfew to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the Netherlands degenerated into clashes with police and looting in cities across the country Sunday, authorities and reports said.
Police used water cannon and dogs in Amsterdam, public television NOS reported, after hundreds gathered to protest the curfew which is set to last until February 10 and is the country’s first since World War II.
In the southern city of Eindhoven, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred, regional television Omroep Brabant reported. At least 30 people were arrested there, according to police.
A number of vehicles were burned and businesses at Eindhoven’s central train station were also looted, media reports said.
Dutch rail company NS called on travelers to avoid the Eindhoven station, where it said train circulation was interrupted due to the intervention of emergency services nearby.
Eindhoven mayor John Jorritsma told reporters that if the country continued “down this path, then I think we are heading for civil war.”
Incidents were also reported in The Hague, Breda, Arnhem, Tilburg, Enschede, Appeldoorn, Venlo and Ruremond.
A Covid-19 testing center was set on fire on Saturday evening in the village of Urk in the north of the country, local authorities said.
“The fire in a screening center in Urk goes beyond all limits,” Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said on Sunday.
Violators of the 9 p.m. to 4:30 am curfew, which Prime Minister Mark Rutte says is needed to bring case numbers down, face a 95-euro ($115) fine.
Exemptions are possible, in particular for people returning from funerals or those having to work, but on condition that they present a certificate.
Rutte also announced on Wednesday a ban on flights from Britain, South Africa and South America, and a cut in the number of guests allowed in people’s homes to one, from the previous limit of two.
New variants of the virus have led to deep concern in Europe, particularly a more infectious strain that first emerged in Britain.
The Netherlands was already under its toughest measures since the start of the pandemic, with bars and restaurants having closed in October, and schools and non-essential shops shut since December.
Dutch lawmakers on Thursday approved Rutte’s curfew plan, though on condition that it begin half an hour later than the original 8:30 p.m. start time.
The move had faced criticism led by far-right politician Geert Wilders, who called it “careless” and “disproportionate.”
“I stand here for freedom. I lost it myself,” said Wilders, who has for years been under round-the-clock security after receiving death threats.
“I do not accept that we unnecessarily... introduce curfews while there are alternatives.”
Rutte and his cabinet resigned on January 22 over a scandal involving child tax benefits, but they will continue to govern until elections in mid-March.