A Mother Is Suing Her Daughter's School For The Freedom To Wear A Face Veil
After being told she wasn't allowed to wear her niqab at a London school where her daughter is enrolled, a Muslim mother is taking action against a school ban on face veils. Rachida Serroukh, a single mother of three, has been wearing the veil for 14 years in observance of her devout Muslim faith.
Despite the personal and cultural significance of the veil, the elite grade school Holland Park in London (where her 11-year-old is enrolled for fall) told Serroukh she's not permitted to wear the full veil on campus. In response, she sued the London school over their ban on face veils.
"Education is very important to me and I want to ensure that all my children get a good education. My daughter, who will be starting at Holland Park after the school holidays, did really well in her year 6 Stats and was the top girl in her class," Serroukh told The Guardian.
However, in June, Serroukh's excitement over the school was dampened when she attended an orientation event alongside 200 other parents. At the event, school staff informed the 37 year old that they don't allow face veils on campus. "I explained clearly that my daughter wears a headscarf and would not be coming to school in a face veil, Then I realized she was talking about me, not my daughter," said Serroukh.
Following the incident, Serroukh emailed the school administration for written clarification about the rule against face veils. Ross Wilson, the deputy head of the school, informed her that technically, there was no written rule.
"It has not been necessary to date for the school to have this requirement stated in written policy. Given the concerns you have raised, we are now considering a written amendment to our health and safety policy to include this specific requirement and will follow the normal protocol of seeking the approval of the governing body," wrote Wilson, according to The Guardian.
In response, Serroukh challenged the necessity for the rule, asking how the school could justify such a targeted policy. "How are you able to justify banning the face veil for all which come onto school grounds? I had shown my face prior to coming onto school grounds therefore security cannot have been a cause for concern," wrote Serroukh.
A string of unsatisfactory email exchanges later, Serroukh got a lawyer from the Attiq Malik of Liberty Law Solicitors to draft a letter to the school naming the incident a "straightforward" test case of religion-based discrimination.
This isn't the first time legal action has been taken based on discrimination against Muslim face veils. In 2015, the U.S Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Muslim woman who was rejected by Abercrombie and Fitch for wearing a head scarf in her job interview.
As of now, the school has declined to respond to comment. However, Britain's Department of Education allows individual schools to decide whether students and staff are allowed to wear face veils.