Thursday, November 24, 2005

Students' fury at ban on hoodies and Islam veils

Students' fury at ban on hoodies and Islam veils
Daily Mail 24/11/05 - News section

A leading university has banned students from wearing Islamic headscarves and hooded tops in a security clampdown.

Imperial College London has ruled that 'hoodies' and veils which obscure the face pose a threat in the wake of the London bombings.

Guards have been ordered to challenge 'unrecognisable individuals' and remove them from campus if they refuse to expose their faces.

All staff and students at the university, which has a large Muslim population, have been told they must wear photo identity cards, and security staff must be able to compare their face to the picture.

But angry students are claiming the new code is an attack on their freedom.
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The code stipulates: "Clothing that obscures an individual's face is not allowed on any of the college's campuses.

"Employees and students should refrain from wearing clothing which obscures the face, such as a full or half veil, or hooded tops or scarves worn across the face."
It adds that the university will 'sympathetically consider' any student's complaint that the rules conflict with their religious belief.

Clamp down on extremists
The code has been introduced at Imperial following an order from Education Secretary Ruth Kelly that all universities clamp down on student extremists following the July terror attacks.
Muslim leaders were also asked to help 'identify and isolate' potential extremists on campuses.
Earlier this year, an academic report named Imperial College as one of 31 universities which has harboured terrorists.

The study, by security experts at Brunel University, claimed the institution provided a base for extreme Islamic organisations.
But Sarah Khatib, deputy president of Imperial's student union, said members are unhappy with the code.

"We all understand that the college wants to identify people, so we're trying to find a middle way," she said.

"People have happily accepted the fact that there is increased security and they have to wear their swipe cards.

"But they aren't happy about the hoodies. People like wearing them and when it's cold the hoods are necessary. They feel it is an infringement on freedom."

'Civil rights issue'
Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said it would be unfortunate if women who wear the burka out of religious conviction were penalised.

He said: "We hope the university would work out some sort of arrangement so if a student does believe part of their faith requirement is to wear one they can continue with their studies.

"In today's world we understand there has to be security, but measures should not be so drastic as to prevent Muslim women taking up higher education, especially as they are being encouraged to do so."

Imperial, one of the most prestigious universities in the country, is known for its maths and science degrees.

On campus yesterday, environmental technology student Nanna Baldvinsdottir said: "I think it's a civil rights issue.

"Even if it affects just three people, I think they have the right to go their own way, whatever their background.

"Its nobody's business. It's very imperialist to tell people what they can wear."

Earlier this year, a Muslim girl took her school to court after being told she could not wear traditional Islamic dress.

Court of Appeal judges ruled that the school had unlawfully excluded her, denying her the right to practise her religion or provide her with an education.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hijab costs woman French residency

Hijab costs woman French residency
Thursday 17 November 2005 5:22 PM GMT

A Moroccan woman living legally in France for eight years has been refused a long-term residence card because she covers her hair with an Islamic head scarf, says her lawyer.

A regional government official wrote in a rejection letter this month that the head scarf worn by Chetouani El Khamsa was a sign of Islamic fundamentalism, her lawyer Pascale Torgemen said on Thursday.

Torgemen said El Khamsa planned to appeal and to file suit for what she contends is a discriminatory, racist and sexist decision.

"Does this mean that a man with a beard is systematically Islamist, a fundamentalist?" the lawyer said.

El Khamsa has lived legally in France - where her four children were born - since 1997, employed by her husband's business. To replace her current residence card that must be renewed annually, she wanted a residency permit that is valid for 10 years, like the one accorded her husband.

But in a 2 November letter refusing her the 10-year card, Francois Praver, sub-prefect in the town of Raincy outside Paris, noted that during her interview, El Khamsa wore a head scarf "entirely covering your neck and the roots of your hair, comparable to a hijab, sign of belonging to a fundamentalist Islam".

The lawyer gave a copy of the letter to The Associated Press.

Hijab ban

France, looking to uphold its secular foundations and discourage Islamic fundamentalism, last year banned Muslim head scarves and other conspicuous religious symbols from public schools. But the ban does not apply outside of classrooms.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has said women cannot wear head coverings in official identity photos. But Torgemen said that her client does not wear her head scarf for official photos - her head is uncovered in her Moroccan passport.

Torgemen said she had not previously heard of a case of women being refused the 10-year residency card because their heads are covered.

El Khamsa and her family are "people without a history, without problems", the lawyer said.

"For me, this is discrimination. They compare the fact that one wears a scarf to fundamentalist Islam," she said.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Strasbourg court decision on Hijab condemned

Nov 13, IRNA
Europe is victimizing Muslim women who wear Hijab, according to a group which is campaigning for the rights of Muslim women to wear the Islamic dress code.

The group 'Protect-Hijab' has expressed its great disappointment with the European Court of Human Rights ruling against Leyla Shahin of Turkey, who has been pursuing her right to wear the Hijab since being evicted from an examination hall in Turkey in 1998.

The Hijab ban, wherever it is in place, is being used as a disguise for governments to suppress the free practice of religion, said the UK-based group in a statement received by IRNA in Brussels.

"The court's reasoning, based on the impact of the practice of Hijab on those who choose not to wear it, is unconvincing at best, and unashamedly paradoxical at worse." The court in Strasbourg on Friday confirmed an earlier ruling against Leyla Sahin, 32, who was barred from sitting at a university exam in Turkey in 1998 because she wore a headscarf.

"The ECHR is saying that the right of women who choose not to wear the Hijab is greater than the rights of women who wish to observe this religious code." "There is no legal reasoning that can convince us that this is a fair decision. It is simply a reflection of long established European policy on the issue of the Hijab, which has victimized Hijab wearing Muslim women," stated Rajnaara Akhtar, Chai person of Protect-Hijab.

Protect-Hijab said it feels this decision will be unhelpful to the integration of Muslim communities in Europe.

The aim of 'Assembly for the Protection of Hijab' is to campaign nationally and internationally for the protection of every Muslim woman's right to wear the Hijab in accordance with her beliefs and for the protection of every woman's right to dress as modestly and as comfortably as she pleases.

Take a look at this beautiful Hijab Poem