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Muslims demanding separate changing rooms for sports and swimming, single sex classes for sex education, prayer rooms and new rights to Islamic worship, and different uniform rules for Muslim Students in UK

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Submitted by DM (India), Aug 28, 2007 at 17:44

Muslim schoolchildren should be treated differently from other pupils, the country's most prominent Islamic organisation has said.

They should have separate changing rooms for sports and swimming, single sex classes for sex education, prayer rooms and new rights to Islamic worship, and different uniform rules, the Muslim Council of Britain said.

Boys should be allowed to grow beards for religious reasons, said new guidelines for schools published by the council.

The call for special treatment for Muslim pupils comes at a time when Government efforts are concentrated on eliminating segregation and encouraging 'British' values to tackle religious extremism.

The National Association of Head Teachers dismissed the ideas as "completely undoable" and warned they ran against the grain of tolerance in schools.

In a paper offering guidance on the treatment of nearly 400,000 Muslim pupils in state schools, the council said some schools "have not been receptive of legitimate and reasonable requests made by Muslim parents and pupils in relation to their faith-based aspirations and concerns".

It added: "Many of these issues relate to aspects of schooling such as collective worship, communal changing, swimming, halal meals and sex education. It is essential that positive account is taken of the faith dimension of Muslim pupils in education and schooling.

"Unfortunately Muslim pupils are sometimes placed in situations where they feel pressured into acting contrary to their beliefs and conscience and also experience Islamophobic sentiments and comments within schools."

It said that in the vast majority of primary schools, boys and girls change for PE together.

"Muslim children are likely to exhibit resistance to this sort of compromising and immodest exposure, but are often pressurised to conform to institutional norms which do not take account of their own or their parents' beliefs and values."

The council said schools could consider building "separate changing facilities that include individual changing cubicles".

"Islam forbids nakedness in front of others or being among others who are naked. Muslim children should not be expected to participate in communal showering," the guidance said.

Sex education, the council said, should be in single-sex groups with a teacher of the same sex and should reflect "Islamic moral perspectives

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