Muslim parents sue UK primary school for banning hijab

A primary school in the UK is being sued by Muslim parents after it banned pupils from wearing the traditional Islamic headscarf.

St Cyprian's Greek Orthodox primary in south London is being hauled before the high court amid claims that its uniform policy breaches children's religious freedom.

The couple insisted it would be a sin if their nine-year-old daughter's head is uncovered while in the presence of male teachers, a media report said.

According to the report, the move represents the latest in a series of legal challenges against school uniform rules on religious and racial grounds.

In a landmark case six years ago, a Muslim schoolgirl, Shabina Begum, successfully challenged a decision by a Luton secondary school to refuse to allow her to wear a traditional gown, although the judgment was later overturned by the Court of Appeal, the report said.

Last year, a north London school was also found to have broken anti-discrimination legislation when it turned away a pupil for wearing cornrow braids in his hair, the report added.

According to the report, current government guidance on uniforms said schools should 'act reasonably' in accommodating various beliefs relating to clothes, hair and religious artefacts.

In the latest case, parents are believed to have enrolled their daughter at the Greek Orthodox primary in Thornton Heath two years ago after pulling her out of a private school.

The couple appealed to governors after the girl was prevented from wearing the traditional Muslim hijab in class.

They withdrew the child and launched a legal challenge with the high court when the school refused to reverse the ban.

Kate Magliocco, the head, said the girl's parents believed that "she has reached puberty and it would be a sin for her not to be covered because the school has male teachers".

According to the report, the uniform policy on the school's website requires girls to wear a dark blue coat, an optional blazer, a skirt, white blouse and a navy blue pullover, but fails to mention a ban on headscarves.

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