The other day, I posted an article on my Facebook page, titled “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” with a comment: “political correctness gone mad I fear this is far from being an isolated example”. “A white Christian child was taken from her family and forced to live with a niqab-wearing foster carer in a home where she was allegedly encouraged to learn Arabic. The five-year-old girl, a native English speaker, has spent the past six months in the care of two Muslim households in London. The foster placements were made, against the wishes of the girl’s family, by the scandal-ridden borough of Tower Hamlets. The five-year-old girl, whose identity The Times is protecting, with her present foster carer. Her mother is said to be horrified by the alien cultural, religious and linguistic environment in which her daughter has spent the past six months. In confidential local authority reports seen by The Times, a social services supervisor describes the child sobbing and begging not to be returned to the foster carer’s home because “they don’t speak English”. The reports state that the supervisor heard the girl, who at times was “very distressed”, claiming that the foster carer removed her…”
This gave rise to some lively discussion which I will get to. Today I posted another article, this by the Evening Standard, in the “plot thickens” and “responding to those who have commented on my Facebook page” vein, titled: “Judge rules Christian girl placed with Muslim foster carers should live with family member”. “A Christian girl who was placed with a Muslim foster family should live with one of her relatives, a judge has ruled. The five-year-old was reportedly taken to her grandmother’s home after the ruling that her current care arrangement should not remain in place. It came after reports that the girl, whose identity is being protected, was placed within a foster home in which English was not often spoken and she was encouraged to use Arabic instead. The Times newspaper had reported that the Muslim foster family had sought to impose its values and traditions on the girl. Tower Hamlets Council, the local authority involved in the case, denied claims the foster family did not speak English. It said that the foster carers were an “English speaking family of mixed race”, and claimed there were other “inaccuracies” in the reporting of the case. Family court judge Khatun Sapnara reportedly said it was in the girl’s best interests to live within a family which could meet her needs in relation to “ethnicity, culture and religion…” I did so laying down the marker that I was going to discuss this later (this blog article).
Another Evening Standard related article is titled: “MPs demand inquiry over five-year-old Christian girl ‘forced’ to live with Muslim foster carers”. “MPs have demanded an urgent review into the case of a five-year-old girl who was reportedly “forced” to live with a Muslim family who spoke no English. The British child, who was brought up a Christian, was allegedly left “distressed and confused” after being placed with a strict Muslim foster family in Tower Hamlets, who would not let her wear her a crucifix necklace or eat bacon. Social workers in the east London borough – where child services were rated “inadequate” last year – told The Times that the little girl sobbed and begged to return to her family because “she doesn’t understand Arabic”. On Monday night, outraged MPs said the child should not have been forced to deny her culture and would have been better placed in a family that “respected her heritage“.
Unbeknown to him, a friend emailed me a link from an organization called “Voice for Justice” (website: http://vfjuk.org.uk/) which expressed its concerns (some I share) on the matter: “What insanity is this? How is it possible in our supposedly democratic country, where Christianity is still recognized as the established faith of the nation, that parents’ religious beliefs can be abused in this way? How can a white, Christian child be handed over for indoctrination into a religion that gives every sign of despising our culture and all we hold dear? Has Britain become Muslim? Faced with the relentless drive of Secular and LGBT activism, hostility towards Christianity and Christians has become commonplace…”
This story has been well reported and while it should be recognized the local authority that made the original decision has not given its response to the concerns raised, that many other news outlets, besides the Times and Evening Standard, have carried the story and there appears little doubt on the facts of the case, although inevitably there are differences as to what to make out of these facts. Two further developments since first posting are the Judge’s response and a call by MPs for an enquiry, discussed in the two Evening Standard articles. I should add that concerning the Times and Voice for Justice articles especially, I felt the language used was intemperate and did not lend itself too well to intelligent debate, as I found with my Facebook comments. Some of those who commented raised issues like the vast majority of foster carers do a good job, as do social services, which have the difficult task of placing children into foster care, especially given many have suffered abuse and neglect by their natural environment and need a safe place. Others agreed the situation described was unacceptable.
My concern and why I raised the matter was that the action of Tower Hamlets, going by the facts that I could glean from the various articles was disproportionate to the needs of the situation and harmful when it came to the needs of the child and the wishes of the parents. The issue is not one of demonizing Muslims, who provided they follow the rules have every right to foster children providing their best interests are maintained. My fear is that wrongly ideologically motivated agents of the State are not the best people to decide what the best interests are. Having read of cases over the years of Christian foster parents being disqualified from fostering because of their non politically correct views, it seems rather rich that this consideration is not afforded in Muslim case, where the Muslims have taken an even more extreme position (and one that appears to be in the wrong direction). I am concerned we are seeing here yet another example of the State playing god when deciding what is in the child’s best interest. For this reason I raise the matter despite it coming under the “where angels fear to tread” category.