Rachida Serroukh, a 37-year-old Muslim mother of three, took legal action against the prestigious London grade school Holland Park (where her 11-year-old begins in the fall) after the administration informed her she was not allowed to wear a face veil on school premises.
Serroukh told The Guardian that she was overjoyed when her daughter was admitted to the distinguished institution, saying, “Education is very important to me and I want to ensure that all my children get a good eduction. My daughter, who will be starting at Holland Park after the school holidays, did really well in her year 6 Stats and was the top girl in her class.”
It wasn’t until Serroukh attended an event for about 200 parents of newly admitted students in June that her delight was somewhat tempered by a member of staff telling her about the school’s supposed rule with regards to the face veil. “I explained clearly that my daughter wears a headscarf and would not be coming to school in a face veil,” recounted Serroukh. “The I realize she was talking about me, not my daughter.” When Serroukh asked several times to see the school policy on the ban, she was asked to leave the school through its back entrance. This she refused to do.
After a series of email exchanges between Serroukh and the administration demanding clarification, it became obvious that the school didn’t have an official record of the ban, so the school suggested proffering one to satisfy Serroukh, which of course was not the goddamn point.
It’s then that Serroukh got a lawyer to draft a letter to the school, calling the incident a “straightforward” test case of religious discrimination.
Britain’s Department of Eduction leaves it up to individual schools to determine whether staff and students can wear face veils, but says nothing about parents and visitors.