Photomontage using photos by Joshua Sherurcij and Laura Aziz (not the real people in the case).
Last week I was in England. While I was there, an interesting case appeared in the newspaper, which could be summarized as follows:
A five-year-old ethnically English (i.e. white and blonde) spent the last six months in the foster care of a Muslim family. Her biological family – from whom she had been removed by the child-protection services (the reasons for this order were not made public) complained that the little girl was being kept in a culturally alien environment. Specifically, they cited that:
- the foster family had removed a necklace with a cross on it from the little girl and had not returned it.
- the women in the foster family wore niqabs in public.
- the primary language in the foster family’s home was not English, and the little girl was being encouraged to learn Arabic.
- the foster family had refused to let the girl eat a spaghetti carbonara her birth mother had prepared for her because it contained bacon.
- the foster family often ate their meals on the floor.
- the girl reportedly told her mother on a supervised visit that Christmas and Easter were stupid and that “European women are stupid and alcoholic”.
Assuming that all these accusations are true, which do you consider significant and which are irrelevant?
Is it Islamophobic to suggest that salafi Muslim families are unsuitable to adopt or foster children from other cultures?
Should salafi Muslim families be banned from adopting or fostering children – even children from conservative Muslim families?
Imagine if a Christian foster family had ‘encouraged’12 a non-Christian foster child to wear a cross; would that be comparable to point 1?
Imagine a vegetarian foster family had refused to let the girl eat the spaghetti carbonara; would that be comparable to point 4? Should vegetarians be allowed to adopt or foster children from not vegetarian families?
Is eating on the floor as a family better or worse than eating in front of the television? (Only a minority of families in the UK regularly sit down to eat dinner together).
In the end the child was removed5 from the foster family and placed under the care of her biological grandmother until a permanent decision is reached on the case. Incidentally, the judge who took the decision to remove the child from the foster family is a practising Muslim.
As a group, try to come up with a list of minimum acceptable characteristics for foster/adoptive parents (e.g. Should they be married? Should they be straight? Should they be from the same religion as the child? Should they be non-religious or only moderately religious? Should they be politically moderate?).
 fit to foster? – are they apt to adopt a child temporarily?
 to summarize – sum up, synopsize
 blonde – fair-haired, yellowy-haired
 foster care – temporary adoption
 to remove sb. – (false friend) take sb. away, separate sb., extract sb.
 to complain – protest
 alien – foreign, unfamiliar
 to remove sth. – take sth. away
 necklace – chain worn around one’s neck
 cross – Christian symbol (representing the crucifixion)
 niqab – Muslim veil that covers the entire face except for the eyes
 to encourage – urge, exhort
 assuming – (false friend) supposing
 unsuitable – inappropriate, ineligible
 to ban – prohibit
 to wear (wear-wore-worn) – (in this case) have around one’s neck
 to allow – permit
 to place – put
 to reach a permanent decision – come to a permanent decision, decide definitively
 to come up with (come-came-come) – (in this case) agree on
 straight – heterosexual