More used to middle-aged men appearing in grey suits, the British Parliament got a shock last week when a 16-year-old girl took to the dispatch box in a hijab. Sumaiya Karim became the first person in the House of Commons’ 700 year history to appear in the Muslim head covering.
According to British daily newspaper, The Times, Miss Karim took to the box as part of Britain's Youth Parliament's annual session in the Commons. Having been voted in to represent the views of young people in her home borough of Wokingham, west of London, Karim addressed over 300 fellow members in a debate on the national curriculum while wearing the Muslim headscarf.
The headstrong teenager was quick to shatter any speculation about her choice of dress, saying: “Wearing the hijab was my own choice.”
Her appearance might have sent shock waves through the dusty British political system but for Karim it's back to school as usual on Monday. As she concentrates on studying for her A-levels, the ambitious student says she plans to become a surgeon before embarking on a career in politics later in life.
At 16 years old, it looks like Britain will have to wait some time before Karim becomes a Member of Parliament for real.
Do you think having visibly Muslim speakers at Parliament is a good thing for Great Britain, reflecting the reality of a mixed heritage population? Share your thoughts on cool Britannia showing up in parliament