Cambridge University: Sensible decision
London, Oct. 31: Cambridge University is to allow female Muslim students to wear burqas under their mortar boards at graduation ceremonies, it has emerged.
The university has a strict dress code for the events at the citys Senate House building to which all students must adhere when graduating.
On the university website, students are warned the code is strictly enforced at ceremonies, and if you do not observe it, you may not be permitted to graduate on a particular occasion.
Cambridge University issued a clarification to say certain items of national dress, military uniform and religious garments — including the burqa — were allowed. A spokesman confirmed burqas could be worn under mortar boards but no one yet asked to do so.
He said: Religious dress and cultural observations are allowed at graduation. If a student has a religious or cultural obligation to wear something then we absolutely respect that. Military uniform is allowed at the discretion of the college. This was clarified in 2005 when the ban on wearing kilts was lifted.
We would allow the wearing of the full burqa if thats what the student wore day to day.
Our only stipulation is that what a student wears is relatively smart and a dark colour. Ahsan Mohammed, chairman of the Newmarket mosque committee, praised the decision as very sensible.
He said: I think its a very sensible decision by the university. I think its the right thing to do and I hope that others will follow.
Cambridge Universitys Islamic Society has 600 current members at the university, with more than 820 on its mailing list.
In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy said in June that the burqa reduced women to servitude and undermined their dignity. Wearing the burqa has been banned in French public schools since 2004.