MELILLA – A Spanish primary school headmaster has sparked uproar after writing a letter to parents warning them not to let their children fast in a school that is almost exclusively attended by Muslim students, a move rejected by parents as interfering in religious issues.
Dris Mohamed Amar, the leader of Melilla’s Islamic Council, said a school had “no place interfering on religious matters,” according to local paper El Faro Digital.
He also said that the school could not dictate when a child reached puberty, the age from which Muslims are expected to observe Ramadan.
“It is up to parents and not the school to decide whether they have reached puberty and whether or not they should observe the fast,” Amar told El Faro.
The state school, Juan Caro primary, is located in Melilla, one of Spain’s two north African enclaves. It is almost exclusively attended by Muslim pupils.
Uproar stated after headmaster Alfonso García Zafra penned a letter to parents asking them not to let their kids observe Ramadan fasting.
“Observing Ramadan could provoke episodes of lightheadedness, migraines and sunstroke as a result of dehydration or lack of sustenance,” warned the letter penned by Zafra, The Local.es reported on Monday, June 13.
His letter was accompanied by a missive from the Islamic studies teacher which pointed out that “students who have not reached puberty – and all who study here are under 12 – are exempt from fasting under Islamic teaching”.
“So I advise – and am supported by the Islam teacher – that parents follow this recommendation because of the host of activities planned until the end of term, and because of the heat.”
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.