Author Archives: Khalil Yousuf

Attacks in Nice

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As a Liberal Democrat and a Muslim, I condemn the senseless murder of Samuel Paty and the attacks in Nice on 29 October. Such heinous attacks are completely against the teachings of Islam, which prohibits terrorism or extremism under any circumstances. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, the people of France and with everyone affected.

These horrific attacks, perpetrated on the false pretext of defending the honour of Muhammad, The Holy Prophet of Islam (“The Holy Prophet”) have led to outrage and exacerbated tensions between Muslims and French society. They risk damaging relations in Britain too.

Like many Muslims, I consider the derogatory cartoons depicting The Holy Prophet published by Charlie Hebdo and other publications to be offensive, distressful and provocative, but they do not justify violence. The cartoons do not serve the objective of free speech, which is to encourage debate and find truth. Instead, their only purpose is to ridicule and cause offence, knowing it to be hurtful to Muslims.

Regardless of the dishonest attacks on the character of The Holy Prophet, to react violently is totally wrong.  The opponents of The Holy Prophet often abused and mocked him. But he responded peacefully and never permitted any of his companions to react.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 17 Comments

OFSTED should not ostracise children who choose to practise faith

Amanda Spielman the Head of Ofsted is right to promote social cohesion, but wrong to achieve that by ostracizing children who choose to wear a headscarf.  Demonising Islamic teachings about modest dress is not becoming of a regulator whose task is to broaden minds, not close them.

Ofsted is properly troubled that contrary to Islam and the best interests of children, some very young girls could be being forced to wear a hijab or fast during Ramadhan. The right way to deal with that is to challenge false notions about religion. The wrong way is to penalise innocent children’s right to free choice.

Islam does not require very young or primary aged girls to wear headscarves. If women choose Islam as their faith, the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad said that such coverings are only required in teenage years when full physical maturity is reached. Head scarves are not unique to Islam either; they are also found among orthodox Christians and Jews.

If a young Muslim girl freely chooses to wear a headscarf because she is inspired by her mother as a positive role model, she should be allowed that choice.  When a Muslim girl speaks with other children about her headscarf and the inspiration she gets from her mother, children develop social skills, empathy, vocabulary, cognitive skills and learn about decision making. These are core to educational development; skills that Ofsted should encourage.

Inappropriate questioning of young children about their religious beliefs by Ofsted Inspectors can be a source of confusion, stress and future mental health issues.  The Mental Health Foundation reports that having a sense of belonging in their family, school and community keeps young people mentally well.  It also reports that experiencing discrimination because of race or religion is a specific mental health risk factor.  Ofsted do engage with children on a one to one basis. When they do, it cannot be right for Ofsted Inspectors to challenge very young girls about why they wear a headscarf.  Questions directed at secondary school girls should be sensitive and should not make them feel isolated or discriminated against. Nothing should serve to make any Muslim child, or a child of any other belief or ethnicity, feel as though there is something wrong with their religion or culture.

Posted in Op-eds | 14 Comments

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