British schools advised to cancel swimming during Ramadan

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Schools in central England were advised Monday to cancel swimming lessons for Muslim pupils during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan to ensure children do not swallow water and break their fast.

"For many pupils this activity may prove to be an issue, as the potential for swallowing water is very high," said the council for the city of Stoke-on-Trent in central England.

It suggested in a Ramadan guide that schools "with a significant number of Muslims" should avoid scheduling swimming classes during the Islamic holy month "to remove unnecessary barriers to participation."

Though some Muslims believe unintentionally swallowing water whilst swimming does not break the fast, others "may consider the risk too great", the council stated.

It issued the document to schools to help pupils through the 30-day fast, when participating Muslims must refrain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset.

The guide also suggests re-scheduling sex education classes because Muslims who have reached puberty are required to avoid sexual thoughts during Ramadan.

The holy fasting month begins this year on August 11.

© 2010 AFP

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