After a Muslim girl refused to wear her school uniform because it went “against her religious beliefs,” the school sent a surprising ultimatum to her devoutly religious parents.
Uxbridge High School in London has certain rules for students who wish to attend the classes it offers. One such requirement is that children wear school uniforms, which are tailored appropriately for either female or male pupils. Unfortunately, this rule was a deal-breaker for one staunch Muslim family.
For years, 55-year-old Idris Hamud’s daughter had been allowed to wear an ankle-length black skirt with her school jacket. Twelve-year-old Siham Hamud would then top off her outfit by covering her hair, ears, and neck with a hijab, per Islamic instruction. She soon found herself choosing between her religious compulsion and education when the school policy was updated to require female students to wear either black pants or knee-length skirts.
Despite the policy change, Idris says that he continued to send his daughter off to school in her maxi skirt. Expectedly, Siham was sent back home each day in order to change clothing and comply with the school’s dress code. Still, she refused. Her father, who has 8 children, put his foot down, insisting that the skirts go against his family’s religious views. However, he wasn’t expecting the school’s response.
According to the Independent, the Hillingdon school has threatened legal action against Idris and his wife, 44-year-old Salma Yusuf, for their daughter’s unexcused absences. Siham admits that she missed multiple weeks of school because she won’t wear the approved uniform.
“It feels like bullying because of what I believe,” she said. “I think they should just let me wear my school uniform to school. I like school normally, and English, drama and RE are my favorite lessons but I couldn’t attend. I find it annoying because I’ve missed a month of school, so I have to catch up a lot. I wish I could just have gone to school as normal.”
The school sent Idris and Salma a letter, which threatened to take the couple to court for truancy, the Daily Mail reports.
“Siham’s absence is being recorded as unauthorised,” the letter reads. “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. I must ask that you support the school and your daughter by ensuring that she attends school in full school uniform with immediate effect.”
Idris, who serves as a sports coach, claims that school officials are discriminating against his family because of their religion. He has also accused the school of denying his daughter an education.
“My daughter is being denied an education because of her religious beliefs,” he said. “All Siham wants to do is to wear a skirt which is a few centimetres longer than her classmates – and I don’t know why the school has such a problem with this. She is sent home to change into a shorter skirt then return to school later that day – but she isn’t going to change her beliefs in an hour. The school is threatening to take legal action against me, but I’m not forcing her to wear a longer skirt – it’s her faith and her decision to make.”
Idris says that his family follows traditional Islam, which prohibits women from wearing immodest clothing or traditional male clothing. As for Siham, she says that the ordeal has caused her to be cut off from her peers as she is confined to learning in her home.
“It makes me feel left out, because I can’t see my friends either,” Siham said. “They aren’t accepting me for my religion and that’s wrong. 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.”
Idris says his daughter has always been at the top of her class and loves learning. However, he claims that she has chosen to adhere to her religious compulsions over her education, a decision which he says is all her own.
The school has declined to release a statement, citing student privacy as well as an ongoing investigation. Of course, the school has every authority to hold the family accountable for Siham’s absences, which have severely disrupted her learning and socializing.
If Siham continues to refuse to comply with the dress code and attend school, her parents could face court and accumulating fines. Whatever the conclusion, it is absolutely tragic that a bright young girl is not receiving the education she so deeply desires and needs.