A primary school in London’s east end has sparked controversy for banning Muslim students from observing Ramazan at school.
A letter informed parents that while the school appreciated what Ramazan meant to Muslims, they would be banning the practice of fasting on school grounds.
“We have sought guidance and are reliably informed that in Islamic law, children are not required to fast during Ramazan, only being required to do so when they become adults,” the letter from the Leyton school said.
The school also said that they understood that the age of adulthood was disputed, however, “in Islamic Law, the health of an individual [was] the first priority.”
Further, the letter added, “Previously, we have had a number of children who became ill and children who have fainted or been unable to fully access the school curriculum in their attempts to fast.”
As the school policy had the same purpose as Islamic law — “to safeguard the health and education of the child” — it would not allow children to fast at the school, advising that older children take part in fasting at the weekends.
The rule was also to be implemented at other schools within the Lion Academy Trust.
As the decision came under immense criticism from some members of the Muslim community, a spokesperson from the Muslim Association of Britain said that parents had the right over the final choice on their children fasting.
“We believe that there are sufficient and stringent rules within Islam, which allow those who are unable to fast, to break fast,” the spokesperson said, adding that the rules included those who were medically ill, too young or too old.
The CEO of the Lion Academy Trust in a statement on the school’s website said that if parents were considering letting their child fast during school hours, “you will need to meet with your Head of School individually to discuss how we ensure the safety and well being of your child whilst still ensuring that they are part of the Ramazan celebration.”
A copy of the letter can be found below:
News of the new rule quickly made its way to social media and many took to Twitter to express their views.
This article originally appeared on The Independent