Schoolâ€ˆchiefs are today under fire for banning pupils from wearing crosses in class while allowing the jewelÂlery of other faiths.
Christian groups and politicians condemned the education bosses and accused them of Ââ€œdouble standardsâ€.
The officials have told headteachers to ban jewellery except in â€œexceptional circumstancesâ€ when schools need to be â€œsensitiveâ€ towards other faiths. The â€œexceptionsâ€ include lockets worn by Muslims and Hindu bracelets.
But even Muslim leaders have joinÂed the condemnation, arguing that all religious groups, including ChristianÂs, should be treated the same.
The guidance, issued to headteachers in Croydon, south London, has echoes of the row last year over Nadia Ewedia, the British Airways employee who eventually won her long battle to wear a cross at work.
â€œWhere rights are in competition, some rights win out. So we have a situation where gay rights trump Christian rights and in some areas, Muslim rights seem paramount.â€
Tory education spokesman David Willetts said: â€œPeople who issue these guidelines donâ€™t understand how much resentment they generate by their clumsy attempts to respect every religion except Christianity.â€ …
A document issued by the Muslim Council this year said taweez amulets have religious significance for those who wear them and should not be considered as jewellery. It said schools should allow the symbols, which contain verses from the Koran, to be worn discreetly
The Croydon school guidance says the religious items that can be worn are: Rakhi, a cotton bracelet worn by Hindus; kara, a metal bracelet put on the arms of Sikh children when they are young and is impossible to remove; and taweez, religious lockets worn by some Muslim pupils on a string around the neck, arm or stomach.
17 May 2007