One in four children with a religious belief is bullied at school as a result of their faith, research shows.
The findings have prompted anti-bullying campaigners to urge ministers to make it compulsory for schools to record all incidents of faith-based bullying, as they have to do in cases of racism and homophobia.
The survey of more than 1,000 pupils by the anti-bullying charity BeatBullying, showed that 23 per cent of the pupils were bullied as a result of their faith. In addition, 9 per cent of those with a faith were bullied as a result of wearing religious symbols to school. One 13-year-old Muslim girl said: “These two girls knew we were fasting, they got me in the toilets and tried to force crisps down my throat; they were all laughing their heads off.”
Read the Beatbullying Interfaith Report (pdf) here.
The report contains many other disturbing accounts of Muslim pupils being verbally abused and physically assaulted:
“They pushed me down the stairs, kicked me, dragged me by [my] hair, broke my tooth and hit me with a chair. They said my dad did 7/7.” (Jagatveer age 15)
“They would call me Paki, tell me to go back to Paki land and live with Osama.” (Mavish age 13)
“I got called a Paki and told that my religion was stupid.” (Jabeen age 12)
“Sometimes I hear boys laughing about bombs in Iraq. They do it in front of me, laughing that more Muslims have been blown up.” (Aruni age 13)
Still, not to worry – over at the National Secular Society website NSS president Terry Sanderson assures us that these are “claims to be read with a pinch of salt”.