Girl makes history with hijab in Houses of Parliament

16:22 23 November 2012

File picture: PA Wire

File picture: PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A schoolgirl is believed to have become the first person to wear a hijab while speaking at the despatch box in the House of Commons.

Sumaiya Karim, 16, from Wokingham in Berkshire, was speaking during a debate on whether children should be given a greater say over the contents of the national curriculum, as the Youth Parliament held its annual session in the Commons.

Speaking out in favour of a radical overhaul of the system, which would give youngsters greater life skills, Sumaiya is thought to have made a small piece of history as she appeared at the despatch box in the Muslim headscarf.

She said: “If it’s true then it’s amazing. Wearing the hijab was my own choice. It’s a choice that I made a few years ago when I found the hijab.

“It’s about when the time is right and the time was right for me.”

Sumaiya, currently studying biology, chemistry, maths and history at A-level, wants to become a surgeon before embarking on a political career later in life.

In her speech, she called on ministers to allow a committee of young people to review the national curriculum, which she said should include a greater focus on political education, as well as sex and relationship advice.

She told more than 300 members of the Youth Parliament: “What does it mean when I say that I am dating someone? What’s commitment? What impact does having a baby have on my life?

“What’s parliament? How do I get through uni? What’s a cash ISA? And more importantly why does my favourite chocolate bar as a kid go from 10p, to 15p, to 17p, and now ridiculously 20p?

“These are questions that need answers. Parliament isn’t just a building, it’s the mother of all democracies. There are financial education schemes available but not for the whole of the UK population.”

In a vote, the youngsters chose to make national curriculum reform their campaign for the coming year.

Only 23 members voted to keep public transport as the issue for the youth parliament, whilst 154 voted in favour of making the national curriculum the campaign for the year.

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