Law and religion roundup – 21st January

A week in which we were delighted to learn that our friend and mentor, Professor Norman Doe, has been appointed an honorary KC

Muslim prayers in school

Last week, there were various media reports (BBC, The Guardian, The Telegraph) that a Muslim pupil at Michaela community school in north-west London is seeking judicial review of the school’s policy of banning prayer rituals on its premises, telling the court that not being able to pray at school made her feel guilty and unhappy. The prayer policy was introduced in March last year by the school’s founder, Katharine Birbalsingh, when the school found itself the target of abuse and harassment after pupils were seen praying in the school playground by passers-by. According to the reports, about 30 students took part, some kneeling on their blazers because they were not permitted to bring in prayer mats. It is being argued for the claimant that it is, in effect, “a ban uniquely on Muslim prayer” because “their prayer has a ritualised nature rather than being internal”, and it prevents pupils from praying “at a time as required by Islam”. In contrast, it would not prevent a Christian child from sitting and praying quietly in the corner of the playground. Continue reading