Anger as picture of Hornchurch students hi-jacked by anti-Islamic group

The Romford Recorder's original picture: pupils from the Wyekham Primary School with Mohamad Rafi an

The Romford Recorder's original picture: pupils from the Wyekham Primary School with Mohamad Rafi and Sidra Naeem at the Havering Islamic Centre in Romford - Credit: Archant

A head teacher said she is “devastated and appalled” that a picture of pupils visiting an Islamic centre has been altered to promote anti-Islamic views.

The picture of 11 Year 2 pupils from Wykeham Primary School, Rainsford Way, Hornchurch, was taken by a Recorder photographer during a visit to Havering Islamic Cultural Centre.

It was copied from Recorder website and doctored before being posted on a public Facebook page with a comment suggesting pupils were forced to visit a mosque.

About 60 pupils, aged six and seven, were given a tour of the centre on Waterloo Road, Romford, and taught about the Islamic faith.

In a statement to parents the school said: “We are desperately sorry for the pain caused to the parents of the children in the photo and want to make it clear that in no way do we support these views.”

Headteacher Una Connolly said the trip was important for children to understand “the range of religious places of worship and have a broad and balanced education on religious views”.

She said: “Children at Wykeham Primary visit different places of worship as part of the religious education curriculum. All children taking part have written parental permission.

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“The visit to the Romford Islamic Centre on March 17 follows visits to churches at Christmas. Trips to a Sikh Temple and other places of worship are planned.

“I’m appalled that an extremist group should attempt to hi-jack this visit for their own dubious political purposes.”

Mohamad Rafi, from the Havering Islamic Cultural Centre, who appears in the picture, said: “It is very disconcerting and unsettling that this kind of Islam propaganda goes on.”

Recorder editor Chris Carter said: “We are truly sorry this has happened and have asked Facebook to remove the picture. It was a desperate attempt by a pathetic group of individuals to drive a wedge between communities and clearly has failed.”

The local authority and police have been called and an investigation is underway.