According to the Sunday Times, Shabina Begum, the Luton schoolgirl who fought a two-year legal battle to wear full Islamic dress to school, was influenced by an extremist Muslim splinter group:
Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT), which is legal in Britain but banned in Germany and much of the Middle East, advised Shabina Begum, a 15-year-old orphan. Her case, which was funded by legal aid, was thrown out by the High Court last week.
Mainstream Muslim leaders reacted angrily to news of extremist involvement in the case. They fear it risks stirring up the sort of controversy sparked in France when the government banned the wearing of the hijab, or headscarf, in school.
Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham’s Perry Bar constituency, said: “Most Muslims are happy with the existing dress code. I think they (HuT) are trying to pick a fight. The Home Office needs to look at some of their activities. At the moment they are very close to the edge.”
Mahmood said HuT’s role was particularly disturbing because of Begum’s vulnerability. She was 13 when, in September 2002, she was sent home from Denbigh high school in Luton for wearing a jilbab, an ankle-length dress that leaves only the face and hands visible.
Begum, who was regarded as a promising pupil, was orphaned last April with the death of her mother. Her father had died in 1992. Her 21-year-old brother, Shuweb Rahman, who helped her bring the case, is an HuT supporter. [...]
Mahmood, who has in the past likened HuT to the British National party, said it had a record of targeting young people in schools and universities to lure them away from the mainstream of the Muslim community in Britain. “It is important that social services look into that role,” he said.
Denbigh High school was an unlikely target for criticism. Almost 80% of its 1,000 pupils are Muslim, and its dress code, which allows pupils to wear a shalwar kameez (trousers and a long tunic), was introduced with the support of the town’s Council of Mosques.
The school argued that going further, by permitting the jilbab, might create divisions by implying that those who did not wear it were not as devout as those who did. It also suggested that the garment posed a safety hazard. [...]
HuT’s ultimate aim is a worldwide Muslim state, ruled by sharia, Islamic law, and it urges Muslims not to participate in democratic politics. It was founded in 1953 in the Middle East, and was banned in Egypt after an attempted coup in 1974.
I didn't watch this week's Question Time, but was amused to read that Germaine Greer had come out strongly against the High Court ruling. Didn't she used to be a feminist?