Schoolboys given detention for refusing to worship Allah
Apparently, two schoolboys refused to do this, and so were
It is difficult to discern, from the statement of the deputy headmaster, precisely what has transpired here, and Cranmer does not doubt the capacity of The Daily Mail to slightly exaggerate here and there. The deputy head refers to many staff being away (which presumably, since he was not available to comment, includes the headmaster), and he feebly states that he has no idea if such coercion is part of the curriculum or not because, he says, ‘I’m not an RE teacher, I am an English teacher.’ One might think he ought to have a little more grasp of the curriculum beyond the narrow confines of his subject specialism.
Of course, no teacher would oblige Muslim pupils to recite the Lord’s Prayer or to cross themselves, and if they did they would probably be dismissed. RE is supposed to educate children about religion, not induct them into acts of collective worship. The emphasis, by statute, has to be Christian in order to reflect the dominant culture and traditions of the country.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights defines freedom of religion and belief as follows: 'Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.'
This must a fortiori include the right to not manifest a religion in worship.
But Cranmer is not sure what these parents are so irritated about. The 1944 Education Act and the 1988 Education Reform Act both grant parents permission to withdraw their children altogether not only from RE but also from the daily act of collective worship. They should simply do this forthwith, which will then oblige the school to sort out alternative provision.