Scottish Daily Mail

Scout master kicked out for ‘Darth Vader’ veil jibe at volunteer

- By Chris Brooke

A LONG-SERVING Scout master has been expelled after a comparing a Muslim leader wearing a niqab to Darth Vader.

Brian Walker said the woman was a ‘lookalike’ for the Star Wars villain and her appearance was ‘enough to frighten children and animals’.

He also complained about the Scout Movement’s ‘politicall­y correct agenda’ that he claimed ‘denigrates Christiani­ty’ and promotes Islam.

The 63-year-old was kicked out when leaders said his comments breached the Movement’s values. After losing an appeal, he is now suing the Scout Associatio­n for discrimina­tion on the grounds of his Christian faith.

The outburst came in response to an article in Scouting magazine, which featured a volunteer leader named Zainab who ‘cuts a striking figure when she takes girls out canoeing or goes hiking’ in her full Islamic veil.

In an email to the publicatio­n’s editor, father-of-two Mr Walker wrote: ‘Canoeists don’t dress like this; why, because they need allround unobstruct­ed vision so they protect the group, and of course they will most likely drown wearing that Darth Vader tent!’

He added: ‘For [the] Darth Vader lookalike lady in a hijab, to suggest it’s not a barrier beggars belief; her outward appearance is enough to frighten children and animals.’ Mr Walker, an assistant Explorer Scout leader from Bristol, also criticised the organisati­on for moving away from its Christian roots in the email.

He said the magazine encouraged youngsters to visit a temple or mosque, yet for the St George’s Day celebratio­n advice was given to ‘choose your venue carefully – the use of non-religious buildings can ensure the event is welcoming to all’.

‘Islam is widely promoted throughout the magazine, playing down Christiani­ty and promoting other faiths,’ he added. Mr Walker also criticised the publicatio­n for ‘promoting’ transgende­r and gay issues.

The email, which was sent in March last year but never published, was forwarded to the district commission­er Scott Stowell.

Mr Stowell told the Scout master that ‘the views you have portrayed in your email do not reflect the inclu- sive nature of Scouting’ or fit in with its ‘equal opportunit­ies policy’.

Mr Walker was informed his membership had been cancelled with immediate effect. At an appeal, he made it clear he meant no personal offence but was making a ‘wider point about the values of scouting.’

Mr Walker told the hearing: ‘I believe scouting should stick to its Christian traditions. It is contrary to Christian traditions to promote Islam and LGBT.’

Zainab, who helps the girls section of the Ist Heckmondwi­ke Ansaar Scouts in West Yorkshire, said in the magazine that her work helped break down barriers. She said: ‘It’s not about being Muslim, it’s about being human. A couple of times we’ve been out on hikes in our hijabs and neckers, and people have come up to us and given us lots of positive comments. I feel we have a positive impact on the community.’

Yesterday Mr Walker, the father of a grown-up child with Asperger’s and another with cerebral palsy, said he had no problem working with Muslim or LGBT children and that he had ‘nothing against’ Zainab – who he does not know.

He said his comments were ‘not meant to be derogatory,’ adding of the expulsion decision: ‘I was absolutely shocked and gobsmacked. I’ve been cast off like an old slipper.’

The electricia­n, who spent 12 years in the Territoria­l Army, said he was taking legal action on behalf of the ‘people in this society who are now frightened to speak out because of reprisals that can really change their life’. He said it was simply about freedom of speech and that nobody should be ‘persecuted’ or ‘lose their jobs’ for expressing an opinion.

Andrea Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre – which is backing the legal action – said: ‘Scouting used to be about doing our best, doing our duty to God, serving the Queen, helping others and keeping the Scout law. ‘It would seem that the culture this created has ceased and the scouting movement has become another great movement infiltrate­d and ruined by the new political dogma that cannot stand any whiff of dissent.’

The Scout Associatio­n said it could not comment on the case for legal reasons, but added: ‘Inclusivit­y is at the heart of modern scouting and is a value we hold dear.’

‘Playing down Christiani­ty’

 ??  ?? Niqab: Scout helper Zainab
Niqab: Scout helper Zainab

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom