Two Muslim schoolboys in the UK have been barred from attending school lessons because of their refusal to shave their beards, reported UK-based newspaper the Guardian on Thursday.
The head teacher at the school is adamant that the reason for the boys’ punishment is down to their lack of respect for the school’s dress code.
The Roman Catholic school in northern England encourages a strict dress code but stresses that the issue was not a matter of religion.
The school has looked into the boys’ punishment to ensure they being treated fairly.
“We have not taken this decision lightly. I have spent quite a lot of time researching the issue and speaking to Muslim elders,” Xavier Bowers, head teacher, told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph.
Bowers added that the clean shaven rule had been in place for some time.
He continued, explaining that in his research he found no religious justification for excess facial hair.
“There is nothing specifically written in the Quran about wearing a beard. It is a choice those boys are making. However inclusive we are, we have standards to maintain.”
Relatives of the boys, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, have reacted to the “pure discrimination,” expressing their disapproval and insisting that “the school has to have an open policy and they have to take in people all religions.”
Following the newspaper interview, Bowers issued a statement on Thursday via Lancashire county council, emphasizing that the school is not willing to back down.
“I am fully aware of the sensitive nature of this issue and have done my very best to be as understanding and reasonable as possible when dealing with situations of this nature,” said Bowers.