Muslim woman becomes first Hijab-wearing judge in UK.

A Muslim woman has become the first hijab-wearing judge in the UK.

Raffia Arshad, 40, was appointed a deputy district judge on the Midlands circuit last week after a 17-year career in law.

“It’s definitely bigger than me, I know this is not about me. It’s important for all women, not just Muslim women, but it is particularly important for Muslim women,” she told Metro.

Speaking to the outlet she said that as a young girl she feared that her working-class upbringing and ethnic minority background would alienate her from the profession.

The newly appointed judge said that she wishes to use her platform “to make sure the sound of diversity is heard loud and clear”.

Ms Arshad described how the positive response she has received is the most rewarding part of the appointment.

“I’ve had so many emails from people, men and women. It’s the ones from women that stand out, saying that they wear a hijab and they thought they wouldn’t even be able to become a barrister, let alone a judge,” she told the newspaper.

Throughout her career, she has practised in a variety of fields including private law children, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and cases with Islamic law issues.

However, she said that despite her wealth of experience, she still faces prejudice and discrimination. She described how she sometimes gets mistaken for a client or interpreter while in the courtroom, most recently by an usher.

“I have nothing against the usher who said that but it reflects that as a society, even for somebody who works in the courts, there is still this prejudicial view that professionals at the top end don’t look like me,” she said.

After training in London Ms. Arshad was called in 2002 and joined St Mary’s Family Law Chambers in 2004.

A family member once advised her to not wear a hijab at an interview for a scholarship at the Inns of Court School of Law in 2001, warning that it would affect her chances of landing the role.

“I decided that I was going to wear my headscarf because for me it’s so important to accept the person for who they are,” Ms Arshad said.

“And if I had to become a different person to pursue my profession, it’s not something I wanted.”

The joint heads of St Mary’s Family Law Chambers said they were “delighted” to hear the news of her appointment.

Muslim woman becomes first Hijab-wearing judge in UK.

“Raffia has led the way for Muslim women to succeed in the law and at the bar, and has worked tirelessly to promote equality and diversity in the profession,” Vickie Hodges and Judy Claxton said.

“It is an appointment richly deserved and entirely on merit, and all at St Mary’s are proud of her and wish her every success.”