A 14-year-old Roman Catholic school girl has been branded a truant by teachers for refusing to dress like a Muslim and visit a mosque.
Amy Owen, who attends Ellesmere Port Catholic High School in Cheshire, was told that she would have to cover her head and wear trousers or leggings for the visit to the Al-Ramah mosque.
But Amy’s mum, Michelle Davies, was outraged by the school’s demand that her daughter would have to dress in Muslim attire, and she has now withdrawn her daughter from the trip.
Miss Davies, who refused to sign a parental consent form, defended her decision saying: “I kept Amy off school because I objected to her being ordered to dress like a Muslim girl.
“She’s been brought up in the Catholic faith and religion. She’s not a Muslim and shouldn’t be told to dress like one.”
The school responded by sending Miss Davies objections with a sternly worded letter, parts of which were in bold and underlined, claiming that the visit was “REQUIRED” to promote “community cohesion”.
And earlier this week Miss Davies received a phone call saying that her daughter’s absence had been recorded as unauthorised.
Miss Davies’ concerns were echoed by Mike Judge, Head of Communications at The Christian Institute, who said: “I’m all for children learning about different religions but to insist someone should dress as a Muslim to visit a mosque and then punish them when they refuse is a disgrace.”
Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, branded the compulsory dress code as “ridiculous”.
Press reports indicate that up to ten other girls may have boycotted the trip because of the requirements.
But a school spokesman attempted to defend the move, saying: “In keeping with accepted good practice we are pleased to provide students with an experience of a visit to a mosque and the chance to question a representative of the community which it serves.”
Last month a Muslim academic blasted the bias which is often directed towards Christianity in the UK.
Dr Taj Hargey said: “I am Muslim. But even as a non-Christian, I can see all too clearly the shameful way in which Britain’s national faith is being eroded.”
Dr Hargey, whose comments were made in a national newspaper, warned that the public institutions which should be defending Britain’s “national religion” are instead marginalising it.
And in 2008 two schoolboys from Stoke-on-Trent were punished by their comprehensive school teacher for refusing to pray to Allah.
The boys, from Alsager High School in Cheshire, were given detention after they said they didn’t want take part in the Muslim prayer as part of their Religious Education class.