The Student Room Group

Michaela School: Muslim student loses prayer ban challenge

A Muslim student at a London school has lost a High Court challenge against its ban on prayer rituals.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-68731366.amp

Scroll to see replies

I've only read the BBC summary and not the judgment, but 'you knew what you were signing up for' being a defence for restricting people's ability to exercise their religion or belief, even in the public sector, is interesting.

I don't think the school's policy is sensible (as a glance at race relations in France will tell you) but the implications of the headlines of the judgment seem quite significant?
Original post by Saracen's Fez
I've only read the BBC summary and not the judgment, but 'you knew what you were signing up for' being a defence for restricting people's ability to exercise their religion or belief, even in the public sector, is interesting.

I don't think the school's policy is sensible (as a glance at race relations in France will tell you) but the implications of the headlines of the judgment seem quite significant?


If it was French (in a French state school) then I would have said that the policy was sensible, but from a UK perspective, I don’t think that the policy was sensible.

I’d prefer it if the head of state was separated from
the church like it is in France different countries do things differently.
I think there was more to the story than met the eye, I did read into it when it first broke but can’t remmebr.
Racism at its finest
Unfortunately situations like this leave us with a dilemma, do we allow all displays of religious faith in schools or enforce a blanket ban?

Michaela is in a very diverse area of London, with students from a multitude of faith and cultural backgrounds represented, including Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and others. For example, the school canteen is veggie so that most pupils' basic religious dietary requirements can be satisfied while also ensuring that students are not divided on dietary lines. In this sense, the school becomes a neutral ground for students to be educated in whilst living in an area that may have high amounts of racial/religious tensions between communities outside the classroom. Therefore it does seem pragmatic to create an environment where religion is totally removed from the picture.

The goal of the school, and this has been emphasised time and time again by Katherine Barbalsingh (herself from a mixed Hindu and Muslim heritage) is to minimise the amount of factors that students can divide themselves along ethnic/cultural/religious lines by. This is a core value of the school and is made clear to prospective students. It aims to remove every aspect that students may feel ''othered'' by - religion, cultural background, race, gender, through a ruthless levelling of the playing field. Students serve eachothers' meals, do the dishes, eat together, and are encouraged to express what they are grateful for.

The school is almost half Muslim, and 99% of the Muslim pupils attending entered with the understanding of these strict irreligious guidelines, and thus did not complain when the school that prided itself on its militant atheistic policy, was militantly atheist. The school itself has dealt arguably with more issues from the parents than the children - notably bomb and death threats towards staff. Yet the school remains open, and its results academically are brilliant, in no small part due to Ms Barbalsingh's determination.

It's a simple case of if you do not want to be somewhere like Michaela, then do not attend the school. Nobody is forced to attend the insititution, and there are plenty of other schools nearby that do allow religious expression. To those that call the policies ''racist'', it is noteworthy that they were instituted to specificaly eliminate racism/otherness in the classroom and to make sure the core purpose of being a school is met - first and foremost as a place where anyone can get a good education, without needing to fear about the restraints of their background.
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by frauschlange
Unfortunately situations like this leave us with a dilemma, do we allow all displays of religious faith in schools or enforce a blanket ban?

Michaela is in a very diverse area of London, with students from a multitude of faith and cultural backgrounds represented, including Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and others. For example, the school canteen is veggie so that most pupils' basic religious dietary requirements can be satisfied while also ensuring that students are not divided on dietary lines. In this sense, the school becomes a neutral ground for students to be educated in whilst living in an area that may have high amounts of racial/religious tensions between communities outside the classroom. Therefore it does seem pragmatic to create an environment where religion is totally removed from the picture.

The goal of the school, and this has been emphasised time and time again by Katherine Barbalsingh (herself from a mixed Hindu and Muslim heritage) is to minimise the amount of factors that students can divide themselves along ethnic/cultural/religious lines by. This is a core value of the school and is made clear to prospective students. It aims to remove every aspect that students may feel ''othered'' by - religion, cultural background, race, gender, through a ruthless levelling of the playing field. Students serve eachothers' meals, do the dishes, eat together, and are encouraged to express what they are grateful for.

The school is almost half Muslim, and 99% of the Muslim pupils attending entered with the understanding of these strict irreligious guidelines, and thus did not complain when the school that prided itself on its militant atheistic policy, was militantly atheist. The school itself has dealt arguably with more issues from the parents than the children - notably bomb and death threats towards staff. Yet the school remains open, and its results academically are brilliant, in no small part due to Ms Barbalsingh's determination.

It's a simple case of if you do not want to be somewhere like Michaela, then do not attend the school. Nobody is forced to attend the insititution, and there are plenty of other schools nearby that do allow religious expression. To those that call the policies ''racist'', it is noteworthy that they were instituted to specificaly eliminate racism/otherness in the classroom and to make sure the core purpose of being a school is met - first and foremost as a place where anyone can get a good education, without needing to fear about the restraints of their background.

I don't agree with their take on the canteen bit (some people can't go veggie) but I can agree with this take.
Good. It doesn't matter if you Muslim, Christian or Jedi, schools are for teaching. Wanna pray, do it at home. Schools should remain secular.
Original post by Mohammed_2000
Racism at its finest

I don't understand how it's racism. Can you be racist towards a religion? What's it got to do with skin colour?

At most it's xenophobic but even then they are being treated the same as same as other religious people. Its a blanket ban, not one aimed at only Muslims.
Original post by Guru Jason
I don't understand how it's racism. Can you be racist towards a religion? What's it got to do with skin colour?
At most it's xenophobic but even then they are being treated the same as same as other religious people. Its a blanket ban, not one aimed at only Muslims.

Hard to say that he was only trying to worship at the school nothing wrong otherwise
Original post by Mohammed_2000
Hard to say that he was only trying to worship at the school nothing wrong otherwise


I think that might have been the “wrong” thing, the worshipping in school.
How is worshipping wrong? Was she forcing others to worship alongside him? Or did someone feel threatened by her worship?
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by Mohammed_2000
Racism at its finest

Islam isn’t a race.
Original post by Gazpacho.
Islam isn’t a race.

Whatever it is it just pathetic the girl was trying to worship and now has lost her ability to do so just could be the start of things which causes unrest and unease
I generally finds Birbalsingh's views and stances to be vile across the board, but this is a complicated one.

If parents and students are aware that the school is secular and strict when signing up, I don't really see what leeway that thought was going to be given.

The student comes across very well in their comments, I wish them well.


Spoiler

Original post by Mohammed_2000
Whatever it is it just pathetic the girl was trying to worship and now has lost her ability to do so just could be the start of things which causes unrest and unease

Firstly, as the court made clear, she accepted she wouldn’t be able to practice her faith at school. If she wanted to practice her faith, it is up to her and her parents to send her to a different school.

Secondly, this has nothing to do with race. It really is amazing that people are so ignorant of Islam that they don’t realise it is practiced by people of all different races and ethnicities.
Original post by Gazpacho.
Firstly, as the court made clear, she accepted she wouldn’t be able to practice her faith at school. If she wanted to practice her faith, it is up to her and her parents to send her to a different school.
Secondly, this has nothing to do with race. It really is amazing that people are so ignorant of Islam that they don’t realise it is practiced by people of all different races and ethnicities.

No no hold on “If she wanted to practice her faith it’s up to her and her parents to send her to a different school” We live in a world of multiple faiths you’ll just stop worshipping and practicing of faith like that. She was doing the right thing in utilising the facilities at her school to pray. There’s no wrong-doing or harm in that. Should we just ban Christmas and Easter Holidays now. And the teaching of Easter in Michaela school in that case. That I presumably assume is still to be taught and publicly observed although that’s absolutely discriminatory and disgusting appalling in fact.
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by Gazpacho.
Firstly, as the court made clear, she accepted she wouldn’t be able to practice her faith at school. If she wanted to practice her faith, it is up to her and her parents to send her to a different school.
Secondly, this has nothing to do with race. It really is amazing that people are so ignorant of Islam that they don’t realise it is practiced by people of all different races and ethnicities.

It is entirely possible that sending her to this school was convenient to the parents for many other factors which includes proximity from home, the academics and much more. It is insensible and careless to say that her parents should've sent her somewhere else. Plus, the parents may not have guessed that the practice of religious faith, which is completely quiet and not done during lectures, and is neither long - only takes about 5-10 minutes as the school timings would only coincide with her zuhr and maybe asr prayer - would affect the principles of the school.
Original post by Mohammed_2000
No no hold on “If she wanted to practice her faith it’s up to her and her parents to send her to a different school” We live in a world of multiple faiths you’ll just stop worshipping and practicing of faith like that. She was doing the right thing in utilising the facilities at her school to pray. There’s no wrong-doing or harm in that. Should we just ban Christmas and Easter Holidays now. And the teaching of Easter in Michaela school in that case. That I presumably assume is still to be taught and publicly observed although that’s absolutely discriminatory and disgusting appalling in fact.


At least you've stopped making silly racism claims.

From the Judge's written statement "She knew that the school is secular and her own evidence is that her mother wished her to go there because it was known to be strict. ... She herself says that, long before the prayer ritual policy was introduced, she and her friends believed that prayer was not permitted at school and she therefore made up for missed prayers when she got home."

She chose to go to a secular school fully aware of the school ethos. That was her or her parent's choice. How are the other 350 or so Muslim pupils able to follow the school expectations but this girl should be treated differently?

That a pupil is expected to follow school rules should not appal or disgust you. What you should be appalled by is the violent threats the school was subject to.
Original post by WordsFiddle
It is entirely possible that sending her to this school was convenient to the parents for many other factors which includes proximity from home, the academics and much more. It is insensible and careless to say that her parents should've sent her somewhere else. Plus, the parents may not have guessed that the practice of religious faith, which is completely quiet and not done during lectures, and is neither long - only takes about 5-10 minutes as the school timings would only coincide with her zuhr and maybe asr prayer - would affect the principles of the school.

If you care to read up on the case rather than engaging in vacuous speculation, you'll discover that her parents sent her there because of the school culture rather than the proximity.

Quick Reply

Latest

Trending

Trending