MPs demand inquiry over five-year-old Christian girl 'forced' to live with Muslim foster carers

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MPs have demanded an urgent review into the case of a five-year-old girl who was reportedly “forced” to live with a Muslim family who spoke no English.

The British child, who was brought up a Christian, was allegedly left “distressed and confused” after being placed with a strict Muslim foster family in Tower Hamlets, who would not let her wear her a crucifix necklace or eat bacon.

Social workers in the east London borough – where child services were rated “inadequate” last year – told The Times that the little girl sobbed and begged to return to her family because “she doesn’t understand Arabic”.

On Monday night, outraged MPs said the child should not have been forced to deny her culture and would have been better placed in a family that “respected her heritage”.

Robert Halfon, chairman of the Commons education committee, urged the council to investigate whether the “concerning” incident was a “one off”, adding: “I’d be equally concerned if a Muslim child who didn’t speak English was placed with a Christian foster carer whose family didn’t speak the child’s language and, at times, appeared to show little respect for his cultural heritage.”

And Philip Hollobone, Tory MP for Kettering, added: “The original heritage of the child ought to be respected by the foster family, whatever their own faith happens to be. The council needs to review this case urgently.”

British fostering guidelines outline that local authorities should give due consideration to a child’s “religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background” when seeking a placement.

A Tower Hamlets spokesman said they could not comment on individual cases and issued this statement: “We give absolute consideration to our children’s background and to their cultural identity.

“All our foster carers receive training and support from the council to ensure they are fully qualified to meet the needs of the children in their care.”


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