A front page story in The Times has prompted disbelief and outrage directed both at the subject discussed as well as the article itself.
It details the case of a “white Christian girl” who was “forced to live with a niqab-wearing foster carer in a home where she was allegedly encouraged to learn Arabic”.
The five-year-old is alleged to have been forbidden from eating bacon and was also made to remove a necklace of a Christian cross.
The case occurred in the “scandal-ridden borough of Tower Hamlets” in East London.
Unsurprisingly the story stoked outrage and has been described as “horrifying” and even “child abuse” and “endangering the girl’s soul”.
But a more nuanced debate has also arisen accusing The Times of stoking division over highlighting the pressures on UK foster care.
Others simply suggested the wording of the piece left a lot to be desired.
The article in The Times does briefly address the pressures the foster care system is under towards the end where it says:
In some areas of the country, a longstanding shortage of foster carers from ethnic-minority backgrounds frequently leads to non-white children being, of necessity, placed with white British foster parents. It is far less common for the reverse to take place.
It does not detail why the girl was separated from her family in the first place but does stress that the “foster placements were made, against the wishes of the girl’s family”.
Tower Hamlets in East London, has the biggest Muslim population of any London borough - only 31% of people are “white British”.
An annual resident’s survey found a generally rosy impression of relations in the area with 92% of respondents saying they “feel their local area is a place where people from different backgrounds get on well together”.
A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets council said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases or those that are subject to court proceedings.
“Tower Hamlets Council’s fostering service provides a loving and stable home for hundreds of children every year, and in every case, we give absolute consideration to our children’s background and to their cultural identity.
“All our foster carers receive training and support from the council to ensure they are fully qualified to meet the needs of the children in their care.”