Muslim woman becomes first hijab-wearing judge in UK

A woman who has become the first hijab-wearing judge in the UK says she wants young Muslims to know they can achieve anything they put their minds to.

Raffia Arshad, 40, started dreaming of a career in law when she was just 11 – but grew up questioning if there would be ‘people who looked like me’ and if a working-class woman from an ethnic minority background could make it in that world.

Nearly 30 years later, she is not only a successful barrister, but was appointed a Deputy District Judge on the Midlands circuit last week.

Speaking to, the mum-of-three says she now wants ‘to make sure the sound of diversity is heard loud and clear’.

She said: ‘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.

‘It’s odd because it’s something I’ve been working towards for a number of years and I always imagined I’d be absolutely ecstatic when I found out.

‘I was happy, but the happiness I’ve had from other people sharing this is far greater. ‘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.’


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