A leading Muslim Tory, found guilty of racial harassment, claims he is being “persecuted” after a request to postpone his community service during Ramadan was refused.
Gulfram Khan, of Handsworth Wood, Birmingham, was ordered to carry out community work after admitting racially abusing an Irish policeman – and a second offence of harassing a judge.
The sentence means the 43-year-old should complete eight hours’ unpaid work every Wednesday until December.
But the father-of-two asked West Midlands Probation Service for a two-hour break throughout Ramadan as he feared he would lack enough energy.
His demand was turned down, leading the Aston-born Conservative to accuse the service of being “prejudiced against people of Islamic faith”.
Mr Khan said: “I asked for a couple hours’ rest each week so I could carry on the community work as normal. But they flatly refused and said I must complete my hours by December.
“Yet I work in the evenings and find it quite tiring during Ramadan because I can’t eat or drink for hours on end.
“I didn’t want the time off. I wanted to make the hours up on other days, but they didn’t want to know.
“If someone has a religious observance, regardless of what religion it is, it should be respected. This is an issue of religious tolerance.
“I’ve spoken to other Muslim lads about the situation. We’re not frightened to do our community service, we are happy to do it, but feel a sense of persecution.
“We can’t do community service on Christmas Day because the offices are shut. So why should there be a different rule for Muslims?
“I’m standing up for myself and other Muslims who are being persecuted at this time of year.”
Mr Khan lives with his wife Nasrin, aged 37, and their children, Ayesha, aged 13, and nine-year-old Khalid.
West Midlands Probation Service was unavailable for comment, but a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “I would have thought they might allow him to defer some hours. People subject to community orders are required to carry out six hours of unpaid work a week.
“Offenders are then required to complete these hours within a specified amount of time. His request would not have affected that requirement.”