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Harrow Interfaith Council hits out over halal school meals as hunger strikes are threatened
PRESSURE is mounting over halal-only menus in schools with a planned hunger strike and threats of parents withdrawing their children.
Harrow Interfaith Council became the latest organisation to criticise the policy as pupils returned from their summer holidays this week.
Chairman Reverend Tim Gosden said some mothers and fathers had discussed the possibility of removing their children from schools in the borough.
Sikh representative Paramjit Singh Kohli said two parents had told him they would go on hunger strike outside one of the borough's secondary schools if there was no change within two weeks.
He said: “I'd say to parents take your kids out of school. But that's the second option, the first option is to make sure there is another meat option on the menu.”
Harrow Council says it will review plans to provide halal-only meat in primary schools, but insists fish and vegetarian dishes are always offered and pupils can bring packed lunches to school if they do not want to eat from the menu provided.
However Mr Kohli said: “Fish and vegetarian dishes are not the alternative, the alternative is non-halal meat. Those dishes are for the people who are vegetarian and vegan.”
Even the Muslim community has not backed the decision.
Ghulam Rabbani, general secretary of Harrow Central Mosque, said: “I welcome the fact they serve halal meat. They should also take account of all the religions, not just Muslims.
“Halal I think is our right, but if it is halal-only people might think they are doing a favour for Muslims.”
Rev Gosden said in a letter to the Harrow Times he feared the policy might attract unwanted attention from anti-Islamic groups like Stop the Islamisication of Europe (SIOE) and lead to racial tensions in the borough.
The group staged two protests outside Harrow Central Mosque against the religious institution's new building last year.
A statement put out by the authority on Friday, August 6, insisted: “The use of halal meat is common practice across London in many schools, public organisations and indeed restaurants, because of the need to provide segregated meat preparation.
“However, there is a choice of menu every day and frequently there is a fish, as well as a vegetarian choice.”
The council declined to add to its statement.