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UK School: Don’t Stare At Muslims Or Apes

From the UK’s Sunday Times:


Don’t stare at Muslims says advice to schools

April 15, 2007

Jason Allardyce and Abul Taher

PUPILS and teachers have been told by an official body not to stare at Muslims for fear of causing offence.

A document intended to educate against religious intolerance and sectarianism urges teachers to “make pupils aware of the various forms of Islamophobia, ie stares, verbal abuse, physical abuse”.

But Learning Teaching Scotland (LTS), which issued the advice to schools north of the border, has been criticised by politicians and Muslim leaders for going “over the top”.

The document states: “Some Muslims may choose to wear clothing or display their faith in a way that makes them visible. For example, women may be wearing a headscarf, and men might be wearing a skullcap. Staring or looking is a form of discrimination as it makes the other person feel uncomfortable, or as though they are not normal.”

Osama Saeed, a spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain, accused officials of going too far. “There are far more serious elements of Islamophobia. People look at all sorts of things — that can just be a glance. A glance and a stare are two different things — glances happen naturally when all sorts of things catch your eye whereas a stare is probably gawking at something.

“Personally I have not encountered much of a problem with people staring. I don’t know how you legislate for that.”

Murdo Fraser, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: “In a multicultural society like ours there are people with all different forms of dress and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect children in particular to look at those who are differently dressed from them. To describe this as a form of discrimination seems to go completely over the top.” …

Meanwhile, from the UK’s Telegraph:

Don’t stare at the apes, zoo tells visitors

By Martin Banks

Most people visit zoos to see the animals – but visitors to Antwerp Zoo in Belgium are being told not to look at the apes.

Instead, visitors are now confronted with signs telling them that making prolonged eye contact with the apes leaves them sad and withdrawn. Zoo staff reckon staring can result in the creatures becoming less sociable.

A spokesman said: “We are saying to visitors that, if our apes hold eye contact with them, then they should look away for a bit or take a step back. Our evidence shows that chimpanzees and other apes who have a lot of contact with visitors apparently tend to isolate themselves from their companions over the course of time.”

But the policy has bemused some zoo-goers, who while used to signs asking them not to feed the animals, are now wondering if this is taking animal welfare a step too far.

Dirk Woldt, a teacher visiting the zoo with his family, said: “When we saw the signs, we thought it was a joke.

“The next thing you know, they’ll be having to counsel the apes.” …

It’s best to just keep your eyes downcast at the ground at all times, I suppose.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, April 16th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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