London: A Muslim family in Britain has claimed that its two teenaged boys have been subjected to discrimination at school for not having shaved their beard. The school authorities said it was a matter of dress code, not religion.
The two Muslim 14-year-olds say they are being excluded because of "pure discrimination". They have been banned from attending lessons with other pupils at a school in Lancashire's Accrington town because they refuse to shave their beards, reported The Independent citing one of their family members.
The boys, both Muslim, have been taught in "isolation" since the start of the new term at the Mount Carmel Roman Catholic High School a month ago, the family member added while requesting anonymity.
"Because these boys cannot shave their beards for religious reasons, they are being put in isolation for six-and-a-half hours every day."
"They are not being allowed to mix with anybody or speak to friends. It is pure discrimination. They chose that school because it is within their area and has good results. The school has to have an open policy and they have to take in people from all religions."
Headteacher Xavier Bowers said boys had that situation explained to them and were told they must return from the summer clean shaven - and he insisted that the matter was one of dress code, not religion.
"We have not taken this decision lightly," Bowers said. "I have spent quite a lot of time researching the issue and speaking to Muslim elders.
"There is nothing specifically written in the Koran about wearing a beard. It is a choice those boys are making. However inclusive we are, we have standards to maintain.
On Friday, Bowers issued a further statement via Lancashire County Council in which it seemed the school was not backing down from its stance.