A REPORT produced by a senior social worker at Tower Hamlets Council claims that allegations made by the Times about how a young girl was treated while she was in the Council’s care are without foundation.
The allegations were made in the Times in an article entitled “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” and were repeated in the Evening Standard and other newspapers. The reports suggested that a young Christian girl had been handed over to a strict Muslim family for foster care, and the family had stopped the girl from observing Christian norms and were trying to make her observe Muslim behaviour.
Tower Hamlets Council’s investigation has found that a number of concrete allegations were just not true.
Allegation: one of the foster carers wore a burqa.
Finding: The first foster carer wore a hijab (not burqa) and the second one ore a burqa in public but not at home.
Allegation: foster carers stopped the child from eating pork or bacon.
Finding: the carers did not stop the child from eating food which her mother had provided, even when this included bacon.
Allegation: foster carers stopped the child wearing a crucifix (a Christian symbol, a replica of the cross on which Christ died).
Finding: two crucifixes were owned by the child; she brought one with her to the foster home; it was a large piece of gold jewellery and the foster carer felt it was too large and too valuable for the child to wear regularly; the foster carer returned it to the child’s birth family for safekeeping.
Allegation: the child was unhappy with her foster parents.
Finding: the child wrote to the Judge in the ongoing court case about her car, stating that she had been happy in the placement and continued to be happy there.
There were also points not made in the press articles which gave a misleading overall impression. For example, the headline “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” did not mention that the child’s grandparents were Muslims, and the child was in foster care on a temporary basis while the courts considered whether she should go and live on a long term basis with her Muslim relatives.
The Council is currently run by directly elected Labour Mayor John Biggs. He was clearly disturbed that the initial allegations were made about this one girl, appreciated that the Council was being painted as a nutty one which was pushing Islam on a reluctant youngster in the name of political correctness, and resented the Council being misrepresented in this way. He ensured there was a proper investigation and the Council was vindicated.
There is a further point that John Biggs needs to consider. His predecessor, Mayor Lutfur Rahman, was portrayed as a nutter who was pushing Islam (probably extreme Islam) on a reluctant borough in the name of political correctness. His Labour colleagues on the Council responded differently to those allegations: they believed them, they repeated them – and in so doing they fuelled the islamophobic appetite to find more of them.
If John Biggs can be innocent of these charges, has Labour considered that Lutfur Rahman may have been equally innocent – a victim of Islamophobia rather than a guilty man?