LONDON: Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has alleged that a local nursery denied his daughter, 2, a place “because of her Muslim name.”
He is taking his case to the care authorities for review after finding out that the Little Scholars Nursery in Dundee, Scotland, was willing to offer a place to a white friend’s child having denied his own daughter Amal a place.
Yousaf said he and his wife Nadia El-Nakla had contacted the nursery in May asking if they had places available.
They said they were told that there were “no available spaces in the nursery” — the second time the couple said they had been turned down.
But when they asked a white Scottish friend to contact the same place, the nursery responded and offered them places for three afternoons a week. The responses came less than 24 hours apart, said Yousaf.
He said when he became suspicious of the nursery he asked a local paper, the Daily Record, to investigate.
Its journalists created two applications for children of the same age and with the same requirements — one with a Muslim name, the other with a white Scottish name.
The child named Aqsa Akhtar was rejected, the Daily Record reported, while Susan Blake was offered a choice of four afternoons.
“I cannot tell you how angry I am,” Yousaf tweeted. “As a father all I want to do is protect my girls, yet aged 2 I believe my daughter has faced discrimination. If this had not happened to me I’m not sure I would have believed it could happen in 2021. How many other families has this happened to?”
In a separate post, he added: “We are fooling ourselves if we believe discrimination doesn’t exist in Scotland.”
In a statement, Little Scholars Nursery said any claim that it is not open and inclusive to all is “demonstrably false.”
It added: “We note Mr Yousaf’s call for a Care Inspectorate investigation and this is something we would absolutely welcome. We have nothing to hide and look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the policies and procedures we have in place to ensure we are a nursery that is open and welcoming to all.”
The Care Inspectorate, responsible for overseeing the fair and high-quality administration of care in Scotland, said “a concern has been raised” and it is considering the information received.