Bearded Muslims, 14, to be allowed in classes

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Two Muslim schoolboys barred from classes because they would not shave off their beards will be allowed to return to school unshaven.

Both 14-year-olds had been placed in “isolation” from the start of the new term at Mount Carmel Roman Catholic High School in Accrington, Lancashire, and this week were sent home as the school maintained they had to be clean shaven.

But the school has now performed a U-turn as it explained it had to comply with the European Convention of Human Rights.

Governors have taken the decision to only allow Muslim boys permission to grow a beard as a sign of their faith as long as they have started the Hafiz programme at their local mosques, which entails daily prayers and learning the Koran in Arabic.

Headteacher Xavier Bowers had previously stressed the matter was not one of religion but about dress code.

He told reporters: “I have spent quite a lot of time researching the issue and speaking to Muslim elders. There is nothing specifically written in the Koran about wearing a beard. It is a choice those boys are making.”

County Councillor Munsif Dad said: “I’m very glad that we are moving in the right direction and I’d like to thank the headteacher and governors for their understanding and co-operation.”