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Allow Muslims to wear veil, say Christian teens

28 July 2011

by Ed Beavan

NEW research suggests that teen­agers who attend church are more supportive of their Muslim peers than teenagers who have no religious faith.

Researchers at the University of Warwick’s Religions and Education Research Unit, led by the Revd Dr Leslie Francis, Professor of Religions and Educa­tion, surveyed 10,000 young people aged from 13 to 15.

The responses of the first 3000, which were presented at a conference on Tuesday, showed that 79 per cent of those who described themselves as “practising Christian” thought that Muslims should be allowed to wear the headscarf in schools. Among those of “no religion”, the figure was 60 per cent.

Sixty-three per cent of practising Christians, and 51 per cent who had no religion said that Muslims should be allowed to wear the burqa in schools. Twenty-nine per cent of practising Christians, compared with 18 per cent with no religion, said that they were in favour of Muslim schools.

“Young people from different religious backgrounds clearly show respect for each other,” Professor Francis said. “But the challenge facing schools today is to enable those young people who do not come from a religious background them­selves to gain insight into how their peers from religious homes feel about things.”

Christian leaders in Bradford expressed concern last week about a proposal by the group Muslims Against the Crusades. It wishes to see sharia law introduced in two towns in Yorkshire, and in a part of East London. The Dean of Bradford, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, told CBN News: “What worries me about it is

it frightens people in the country, because although it’s a small group, [it’s] a very extreme group.”

A law came into force in Belgium this week banning the wearing in public of full-face veils, including the burqa and the niqab (News, 7 May 2010). The general secretary of the Ecumenical Youth Council, which is based in Brussels, Kristine Jansone, told Episcopal News International that the ruling “violates basic human rights” and “will clearly impede the free practice of religion”.

A representative of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Belgium, Bishop Athenagoras of Sinope, supported the ban. He said: “As Orthodox Christians, we’re exper­i-enced in having to respect the rules of the country we live in. Most of those who wear the burqa do so because they are obliged to. Isn’t this itself a violation of human rights?”

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