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Kenan Malik on that Muslim/Christian foster furore

I’ve held off from writing about this one – but here Kenan Malik sums up (and crystallises) my own thoughts on the issue.  The original Times headline was pretty outrageous.

Christian child forced into Muslim foster care

This ‘clash of civilisations’ approach was compounded by other papers which photoshopped a picture of a woman wearing hijab, transforming the veil into a niqab, to illustrate the story.

I agree with Malik that matching a child’s identity should not be the sole consideration and that the intolerant views ascribed (rightly or wrongly) to the foster parents would be a bad influence on a child from any cultural background.

One issue on which all sides seem agreed is the need for “cultural matching”: the belief that a fostered child is best served living with carers who are of the same racial, cultural and religious background.

This might seem like common sense. But what it actually means is far from straightforward. Would a Christian child be better off in a liberal, open Muslim home or in a strictly observant, conservative Christian home? The answer is not necessarily clear. We don’t know the veracity of the allegations that one of the Tower Hamlets foster families disparaged Christmas and Easter and banned the cross. Suppose the claims are true. Would a Muslim child have thrived in such a household any more than a Christian child

Malik concludes his thoughtful article with a discussion of how the opposite phenomenon – an oversensitivity to charges of Islamophobia – may also distort debate.