By Jake Wallis Simpson, Telegraph
So here we are again. A nine-year-old girl from south London has been forbidden from wearing her hijab at school
. As surely as night follows day, her family are suing the school for religious discrimination. Commentators on the Left, like the education journalist Susan Elkin, tie themselves in tautologies
in efforts to call for toleration: "I know it’s hard for those of us who didn’t grow up in strict Muslim families to understand why it’s a sin for a child of nine to be bare headed in front of male teachers," she concedes, "but would a uniform coloured headscarf really affect teaching and learning in the classroom?"
Which leads us to draw the inevitable comparison with the case of Celestina Mba
, the Christian Baptist who was sacked for refusing to work on Sundays. A High Court judge, Mr Justice Langstaff, upheld the decision to dismiss her. And, of course, the case of Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin
, the two Christian women who claim that they were discriminated against when their employers barred them from wearing crosses at work. The Government positioned itself against the pair, stating that because wearing the cross is not a "requirement" of the Christian faith, wearing one in defiance of a ban can be a sackable offence. Or, as their lawyers pithily put it, Christians must "choose between their job and their faith".
To take a semantic tack: it is generally recognised that there is an important difference between tolerance and toleration. The former usually denotes an acceptance of alternative ways of life, whereas the latter tends to mean putting up with something with which one disagrees.
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