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UK Court Upholds School’s Ban on Prayer Rituals

The high court judge has upheld the ban on prayer rituals at Michaela Community School, a top-performing institution in England known for its strict discipline and high-profile headteacher. The case was initiated by a Muslim student, identified as TTT in court proceedings, who argued that the ban was discriminatory and infringed on her religious freedom.

The judgment, delivered by Mr. Justice Linden, dismissed the pupil’s objections to the prayer ban but upheld her challenge to a temporary exclusion from the school. The ban was introduced in March last year by the school’s founder and former government social mobility tsar, Katharine Birbalsingh, following death and bomb threats due to the school’s stance on religious observance.

Birbalsingh defended the policy, emphasizing its significance in maintaining a conducive learning environment for students of all races and religions. However, the pupil argued that the ban negatively impacted her sense of belonging as a Muslim in the UK and disproportionately affected her faith due to its ritualized nature.

Linden ruled that the ban did not infringe on the pupil’s religious freedom, as she had the option to transfer to another school that allowed prayer during lunchtime. He also emphasized that the ban was justified given the secular ethos of the school.

Despite her disappointment, the pupil, who remains anonymous due to legal reasons, expressed pride in challenging the ban and vowed to focus on her GCSEs.

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