Catholic school accused of “forcing” Muslim pupils to break their fast

July 21, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Muslim-Christian relationsMumbai, July 14, 2015: “It is dishonest to turn an issue that is purely administrative into a problem of a religious nature”, Fr. Victor Edwin SJ, theologian and expert on Muslim-Christian relations comments to AsiaNews following a dispute that involves a Catholic school in Mumbai.

Parents of some Muslim students at St. Agnes High School in Byculla staged a protest yesterday against the institution, guilty of “forcing” their daughters to break the Ramadan fast. They were joined by some politicians of the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen, who have threatened “legal retaliation.”

The adults were angered that three girls out of 40 have had to drink water after remaining more than seven hours in the sun. The principal, Sister Louisa D’Mello, admitted that she was not aware that students were waiting outside the building, but has refused to take responsibility for breaking of the fast.

The incident took place on Friday, July 10. Two days before, the parents say “we had the prayers of Lailatul Qadr and we stayed awake all night. For this reason, the next day [Thursday, ed] our daughters did not go to school. On Friday they went to the principle with the justification, but were not received. ” “One of the teachers – said the father of one of the three who was  unwell – even said that, if we met with similar problems, then we had to send our daughters to a Muslim school.”

The 40 girls – most of them ethnic Bohra Muslim –   remained outside waiting from 8:30 am to 15:30. The principal explained the error that sparked the controversy. “According to the disciplinary rules of the institute – she said – those who are absent must obtain the signature of the principal on the school register to mark their presence and enter the classroom. That Friday many students were missing and not all could fit all in the hallway in front of my office. Thus, by their own choice, they decided to wait outside the building. “

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On the other hand, adds the Jesuit, “it is regrettable that a teacher told the Muslim students to leave and find an Islamic school. His attitude is typical of a prejudice that must be countered. The service offered by Christians to other religions, in particular Islam, in the fields of education and health is a fact. Muslims should recognize the dedication with which the service is provided”.

According to Fr. Edwin “such matters should be addressed with sensitivity and responsibility. The parents and the school administration must discuss and find a solution to the problem. The parents marching on the institute with politicians was an irresponsible act on their part”.

– asianews

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