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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

14 MAY 2007

Imagining Islam ... of meaning and metaphor symbolising the jilbab: R (Begum) v Headteacher and Governors of Denbigh High School

Susan Edwards, Professor of Law, University of Buckingham. Examining the recent House of Lords decision in the case of R (Begum) v Headteacher and Governors of Denbigh High School [2006] UKHL 15, where the court held that a school's refusal to allow a pupil to wear the jilbab did not contravene her rights under Arts 2 and 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 (the Convention), the author queries whether this case and relevant Strasbourg jurisprudence interpret the Convention in a way which protects or undermines religious freedom. Does the Strasbourg jurisprudence in education and religious dress code cases demonstrate a disconcerting trend of religious intolerance dressed up as a benign state secularism justified in the name of harmony and the protection of the rights of others? Is a degree of disharmony the natural consequence of a multi-faith and multi-cultural society, and the price which should be paid for religious freedoms?

The article goes on to consider the extent to which the principle of 'Gillick competence' and the applicant's right to self-determination formed a part of their Lordships' deliberations in the Begum case, and to what extent the family dynamics of the applicant were considered. For the full article see Child and Family Law Quarterly, Vol 19, No 2, 2007.

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