Children who do not eat or drink during a whole day are exposed to care neglect, Fremskrittsparti (Frp) politicians believe.
“I think it’s totally unacceptable that children go 18 to 19 hours without food and drink. This is simply gross neglect,’’ said Åshild Bruun-Gundersen to NTB news.She is an educational policy spokesperson for Frp in parliament.
“I think teachers must inform parents that it is not acceptable for children not to eat or drink during a whole day. If this does not work, child welfare should intervene, because this is a care failure ,’’ she added.
Like hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world, thousands of Norwegian Muslims are also marking Ramadan during the holidays.
Should be forced vacation
In Denmark, the debate was sparked off after immigration minister, Inger Støjberg, from the Conservative branch of the Left, recently claimed that fasting Muslims who work as bus drivers or at factories or hospitals pose a danger to society.
Bruun-Gundersen showed that Norwegian school students are now in the exam period,with high performance pressure.
“It is quite obvious that children should eat, drink and be refreshed and focus when they are at school. They should not be subjected to this kind of tradition,” she said, referring to repeated discussions in Norway about food and drinks at school.
Bruun-Gundersen believes that fasting teachers should be forced to take a holiday.
“There is no one who believes that adult people who fast for four weeks have the concentration and ability to give the students a good education,” she said.
Left-wing parliamentary politician, Abid Raja, responded strongly to the statements by the Frp representative.
‘’First of all, no children have a permanent obligation. Parents know when the child is mature enough for this. Children often take care of their parents and not least their friends, as an aunt.
It is mostly religion, but culture, traditions and social gatherings are factors,” he told NTB.
Raja himself has fasted many times and showed that both children, the elderly, the sick and pregnant women are exempted from an obligation to fast.
‘’Teachers and other staff work just fine. I have worked both during exams and as a lawyer when I have been fasting. It is not such a big challenge,” said the parliamentary politician.
Responding to the challenge of long days in Norway in the summer, some Norwegian Muslims have resolved it by following Mecca time. Raja also believes it will be possible to recapture a lost working day later for Muslims who feel they can not perform the work properly under the fast.
“Religious freedom is one of the most fundamental of all” he emphasised.
The Directorate of Education does not have figures on how many children in Norway fast during Ramadan, reported NTB news. Bruun-Gundersen acknowledges that she does not have any figures as to how many children this applied to.
“I think the numbers are much higher than you think,” she said.
The Frp politician referred to examples from Sweden where children have fainted at school during Ramadan, and that fasting among children is a “growing problem” in Germany and Sweden.
“We must not be so naive that we believe that this does not occur in Norway.’’
During the daylight fast, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking, as well as avoiding doctor and dental visits.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today