Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Kenyan court upholds school hijab ban

A Kenyan court has upheld the right of a church school to ban the wearing of the hijab by Muslim students. On 6 March 2015 Justice Harun Makau of the High Court in Meru held that school uniform codes that banned the full-face covering worn by some Muslim women did not conflict with Kenya’s constitution, saying St. Paul Kiwanjani School in Isiola was within its right in banning the garment. A leader of Kenya’s Muslims denounced the ruling saying it would lead to sectarian divisions. Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa, organising secretary of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, said religious symbols should be respected. "The Singh wear the turban, the Catholic wear the Rosary, and the Muslim women wear the hijab. Our freedom of worship and religion must be respected," he told a press conference in Mombasa. However, attorneys for the Methodist-affiliated school told the court that making the hijab and white trousers part of the school uniform code discriminated against Christian students. Muslim and Christian students had been wearing the same uniform since the school’s founding he argued. The issue had arisen last year at the school’s annual general meeting when some Muslim parents demanded the school adopt a new dress code to conform to their new religious sensibilities.

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