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02 July 2010

Muslim pupils taken out of music lessons 'because Islam forbids playing an instrument'

article-1291218-0A49101A000005DC-593_468x326.jpgMuslim pupils are being withdrawn from music lessons because some families believe learning an instrument is anti-Islamic.

The move comes despite the subject being a compulsory part of the national curriculum.

While parents have legal rights to withdraw children from religious and sex education classes, no automatic right exists to pull them out of lessons such as music.

 Pupils in a music class at a primary school: Some Muslim families have withdrawn children for religious reasons


One education expert said up to half of Muslim pupils were withdrawn from music lessons during Ramadan.

And The Muslim Council of Britain said music lessons were likely to be unacceptable to around ten per cent of the Muslim population in Britain.

However, in certain branches of Islam - such as Sufism, which is dominant in Pakistan and India - devotional music and singing is actually central to the religion.

A BBC investigation found that in one London primary school, 20 pupils were removed from rehearsals for a Christmas musical and one five-year-old girl remains permanently withdrawn from mainstream music classes.

Some Muslims believe that playing musical instruments and singing is forbidden according to Islam.

At Herbert Morrison Primary in Lambeth, 29 per cent of children come from mainly Somalian Muslim families. Headmistress Eileen Ross said some parents 'don't want children to play musical instruments and they don't have music in their homes'.

One girl remains permanently withdrawn from the school's music curriculum, which consists of a government-backed project to learn instruments such as the violin.

'There's been about 18 or 22 children withdrawn from certain sessions, out of music class, but at the moment I just have one child who is withdrawn continually from the music curriculum,' Mrs Ross told the BBC.

'It's not part of their belief, they feel it detracts from their faith.' Ofsted and education experts raised concerns over the findings.

The Open University's Dr Diana Harris, an expert on music education and Muslims, said she had visited schools where half of the pupils were withdrawn from music lessons by their parents during Ramadan.

'Most of them really didn't know why they were withdrawing their children,' she told the BBC. 'The majority of them were doing it because they had just learned that it wasn't acceptable and one of the sources giving out that feeling was the Imams.'

A spokesman for Ofsted said: 'Music is an important part of any child or young person's education. Any examples of pupils being treated unequally would be a matter of significant concern.'




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