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March 05, 2003

Islamic reprieve for pig tales

Hey! Get homeschooled if you think the world should change for your beliefs
Islamic leaders called on a junior school yesterday to drop a ban on some of the most appealing characters in English literature, from Piglet to Chester the Worldly Pig.
The Muslim Council of Britain appealed for an end to a "well-intentioned but misguided" movement against primary school teachers reading stories about pigs, and for titles like the Three Little Pigs to return to the open shelves.

The intervention was prompted by concern in Batley, West Yorkshire, over a headteacher's instruction that books featuring pigs should not be used in class in case they offended Muslims.

Barbara Harris of Park Road infant and nursery school, where 66 per cent of pupils are Muslim, sent a memo last month to staff asking for the books to be removed from the under-sevens' classes.

Mrs Harris, whose school has adopted a cautious line on pig-centred children's books for some years, said that she had sent out the memo because of concern that young children might be upset.

She said the note had been prompted by "a recent occasion where young Muslim children in a class were read stories about pigs which could have caused offence to religious sensitivities".

But Inayat Bunglawala, of the MCB, said: "It is understandable, but this is a misconception about Islam which is often encountered back in Pakistan and India too.

"The headteacher has acted sensitively, because there are parents and families who believe that portraying the pig in books is wrong. But there is absolutely no scriptural authority for this view. It is a misunderstanding of the Koranic instruction that Muslims may not eat pork." [more]