A primary school in east London has drawn criticism for banning Muslim pupils from fasting during Ramadan at school.
In a letter from Barclay Primary School, parents were informed that while the school appreciated what Ramadan meant to Muslims, they would be banning the requirement to fast on school grounds.
“We have sought guidance and are reliably informed that in Islamic Law, children are not required to fast during Ramadan, only being required to do so when they become adults," the letter from the Leyton school said.
The school said although they understood that the age of adulthood was disputed, “in Islamic Law the health of an individual [was] the first priority”.
“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.
The decision has sparked criticism from some members of the Muslim community. A spokesperson from the Muslim Association of Britain told Mail Online that parents had the right over the final choice on fasting.
“We believe that there are sufficient and stringent rules within Islam which allow those who are unable to fast, to break fast,” said the spokesman, who added that the rules included those who were medically ill, too young or too old.
The radical preacher Anjem Choudary took to Twitter to criticise the school's decision:
Muslim parents with children at Barclay Primary School should withdraw their children & send them to Schools where they teach Shari'ah law!!— Anjem Choudary (@anjemchoudary) June 12, 2015
Justin James, chief executive officer of the Lion Academy Trust, said in a statement on the school’s website, that if parents were considering letting their child fast during school, “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 Ramadan celebration”.