Christian teacher 'bans reading of Harry Potter witchcraft in class'
By COLIN FERNANDEZ - More by this author Ľ
Last updated at 01:09am on 9th June 2007
£50,000 tribunal claim: Sariya Allen
A teaching assistant refused to listen to a child read a Harry Potter book because she believed its magic theme was against her Christian faith, a tribunal heard.
Sariya Allan, 47, was disciplined by her employers after she told a seven-year-old girl pupil "I don't do witchcraft in any form" and said she would be "cursed" by hearing the J K Rowling novel.
Miss Allan, who quit her job on grounds of religious discrimination, is now claiming around £50,000 damages from her former school.
She had been working in her £12,000-a-year job at Durand Primary School in Stockwell, South London, for nearly four years when she resigned in July 2006.
In her evidence to the hearing in Croydon, South London, she said that a girl brought in a Harry Potter book to read in February last year. She said: "I admit I said to the child that I don't do witchcraft in any form.
"I said this because it is known that the subject of the Harry Potter books is white magic, the main character is a wizard who casts spells and uses the supernatural to triumph in various plots throughout the stories.
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Witchcraft: Harry Potter
"The Holy Bible gives express instruction against some of the practices contained in the book, and I therefore objected to the child reading this book to me.
"I was put in the position that listening to the child reading this book would compromise my religious beliefs."
Miss Allan, from Stockwell, who described herself as a "committed Pentecostal Christian", has also claimed the school stopped her from holding early morning prayer meetings in a classroom.
She was suspended by the school and said that she resigned on July 21 last year as she felt "harassed, humiliated, and discriminated" against.
Ben Oduje, counsel for the school, said: "This incident with the Harry Potter book says an awful lot about the claimant's attitude towards the school. Her suspension was due to her obstructive conduct over time. It was not down to that day alone.
"There was criticism of the claimant's conduct towards the child but it was not a criticism of her religious beliefs.
"She was dealing with a seven-yearold child. Her expressing her disapproval of the child's choice of book had the effect of imposing her own religious beliefs on the child.
"By any stretch of the imagination, to say that to a child is wholly inappropriate."
Durand's is a foundation school run by a company, London Horizons, outside local authority control.
The case continues.