Two Muslim foster families are under fire after taking away the cross necklace of a five-year-old Christian girl in their care and telling her that Christmas and Easter are "stupid".
According to The Times, the child, who is white, was placed into foster care in Tower Hamlets, east London six months ago against the will of her family.
While local authorities are required to give due consideration to a child's "religion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background" when placing them into a foster home, she was made to live with two Muslim families who do not speak English.
When social workers checked up on the little girl half a year later, she reportedly "sobbed and begged not to be returned to her niqab-wearing carer's home, telling a social worker: 'They don't speak English.'"
The child was "very distressed" and claimed the foster carer had removed her Christian cross and encouraged her to learn Arabic. Her caregivers also told her Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter are "stupid" and wouldn't allow her to eat her favorite meal because it contained bacon.
A friend told the newspaper: "This is a five-year-old white girl. She was born in this country, speaks English as her first language, loves football, holds a British passport and was christened in a church.
"She's already suffered the huge trauma of being forcibly separated from her family. She needs surroundings in which she'll feel secure. Instead, she's trapped in a world where everything feels foreign and unfamiliar. That's really scary for a young child."
The paper reports that Tower Hamlets authorities refused to comment on the situation. However, the foster care website claims it looks for carergivers "who can provide a child with a loving and stable environment for them to grow and develop". I also states that a carer would "need to help [a child] them feel comfortable in your home and their surroundings."
The Department for Education also refused to comment, but a spokesman said: "When placing a child in a foster home, the local authority must ensure that the placement is the most appropriate way to safeguard the child and support their welfare.
"A child's background is an important consideration in this decision."
The Daily Mail notes that earlier this year, an Ofsted inspection at Tower Hamlets council found "widespread and serious failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection". It was also found to have an "entrenched culture of non-compliance with basic social work standards".
Additionally, a leaked government report from 2014 suggested that mayor Lutfur Rahman had links to Islamic extremist groups, including one seeking to set up a Sharia state in Europe.
Tower Hamlets is one of the most diverse areas of the country, according to The Telegraph, where only 31 per cent of the population were white British at the time of the 2011 census.