Saturday, June 19

UK court orders govt to provide halal food to Pakistani family at quarantine facility



LONDON: The British government was ordered by the UK High Court of Justice to provide halal food  to a Pakistani family at sehri and iftar during the mandatory 10-day stay at a quarantine facility, making the verdict applicable to thousands of Muslims currently in isolation at various locations across the country.

The court has also ordered the government to allow the claimant to exercises twice a day rather than once a day.

The order from the Deputy Judge Richard Clayton QC came after solicitor Fida Chaudhary challenged the UK health and transport secretaries on behalf of Robina Raja.

Raja had arrived from Pakistan on April 22 and was transferred to Sandman Signature London Gatwick Hotel for quarantine.

The judge ordered that Raja be provided halal food at the start and end of prescribed times for fasting during Ramadan, while subject to quarantine.

During the hearing, the court was informed that as soon as Raja arrived at London Heathrow, she was assigned a security guard and throughout her journey through the airport she was unable to move anywhere without his consent.

She informed the hotel receptionist that she would be fasting as it was Ramadan and she required halal meals at specific times around 3am to start the fast and around 8:15pm to break the fast.

She was then informed that breakfast, lunch and dinner was being provided in accordance with hotel arrangements and that they were unable to provide her with food on the required times whether it was Ramadan or not.

Furthermore, upon arrival at the hotel, Raja was informed that under no circumstances would she be allowed to leave her room unless it was for a walk around the hotel and that also only for 15 minutes per day.

She was also told that she would be under strict supervision and would require prior approval from the hotel management for the walk.

Her room windows were all sealed restricting fresh air from coming in, resulting in her feeling suffocated at all times which further aggravated her breathing problems as she suffers from chronic asthma.

In the petition she said that she felt like nothing less than a prisoner.

The court was also informed that the “unhygienic room” was infested with flies, that triggered her sinus problem alongside her asthma condition. She also told the court that she was informed that hotel staff would not be cleaning the room during her 10-day stay.

Fida Chaudhary told Geo News that when he was told of Raja’s concern he found out that she was not the only one facing the issue.

“A consistent concern had been that quarantined Muslim people who were fasting in the holy month of Ramadan were not receiving appropriate halal food at the time of starting and breaking their fast. I also became aware of a report that some Muslim families were served bacon at the hotels. This was extremely disturbing,” said the lawyer.

Chaudhry said that as soon as he got to know about Raja’s case he approached the court.

“We are glad that those fasting will now be able to get sehri and iftar on time and will be allowed to walk twice a day,” said the lawyer on the verdict. 



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