The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Daniel Ne­mukuyu Senior Court Reporter

A ST John’s Col­lege stu­dent who prac­tises Is­lam and was barred from at­tend­ing les­sons af­ter re­fus­ing to shave his beard has taken the school’s au­thor­i­ties to court ar­gu­ing that the of­fi­cials’ de­ci­sion was un­con­sti­tu­tional.

The Up­per Six pupil’s father, Mr Mo­hammed Is­mail, filed an ur­gent cham­ber ap­pli­ca­tion at the High Court on be­half of the boy.

The ap­pli­ca­tion, pre­pared by Pro­fes­sor Love­more Mad­huku, is yet to be set down for hear­ing be­fore a judge of the High Court.

The school ad­min­is­tra­tors, who have in­structed se­cu­rity of­fi­cers to block the pupil from the school premises, ar­gued that his beard vi­o­lated the school’s dress code.

The stu­dent’s father said his son had been sent home a num­ber of times “to shave off his beard and to abide by the school rules”.

The pupil keeps a full beard (see file pic­ture) as part of his faith.

St John’s Col­lege’s de­ci­sion flies in the face of pre­vi­ous court de­ci­sions or­der­ing schools to re­in­state stu­dents who had chal­lenged “dis­crim­i­na­tory and un­con­sti­tu­tional” con­duct by the au­thor­i­ties.

St John’s Col­lege, its head­mas­ter Mr Cava­liere Cor­rado Trinci and the chair­per­son of the in­sti­tu­tion’s board of gov­er­nors, Mr Cava­liere Steve Martin, were listed as re­spon­dents in the case.

In his found­ing af­fi­davit, Mr Is­mail ar­gued that his son was study­ing to be an Imam, a po­si­tion of im­mense re­spon­si­bil­ity in Is­lam, hence he is pro­hib­ited from shav­ing off his beard.

“As part of the strict re­li­gious po­si­tion Is­lam, the of boy has to main­tain the growth of his beard,” he said in his af­fi­davit. Pre­serv­ing a beard is com­pul­sory for all Mus­lim males. Is­lam for­bids the shav­ing of the beard.

“Ac­cord­ingly, the mi­nor rep­re­sented herein is pro­hib­ited by his re­li­gion from shav­ing beard.”

Mr Is­mail said his son en­rolled with St John’s in Form One with his beard, but noth­ing hap­pened to him.

Trou­ble started at the end of last year when the beard had grown and the col­lege au­thor­i­ties barred him from at­tend­ing les­sons.

They threat­ened to bar him from en­ter­ing the col­lege premises this term, pre­cip­i­tat­ing the fil­ing of the ur­gent cham­ber ap­pli­ca­tion.

Mr Is­mail ar­gued that his son’s right to free­dom of re­li­gion as en­shrined un­der Sec­tion 60 of the supreme law was be­ing vi­o­lated.

He ar­gued that the boy was be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against on re­li­gious grounds.

St John’s Col­lege and its lead­er­ship are yet to re­spond to the ap­pli­ca­tion.

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