This is how crazy the UK and the West, in general, has become…
Can you give Scouts canoe lessons while wearing a full Islamic veil? Absolutely not, says Brian, who devoted a lifetime to the Scouts but was kicked out after saying a Muslim Scout leader looked like Darth Vader
- Brian Walker was thrown out of Scout movement after 50 years of membership
- Canoe instructor suggested a Muslim leader might endanger children in niqab
- He went on to compare all-girl Scout leader Zainab Kothdiwala to Darth Vader
As a devoted Scout master, Brian Walker has spent decades teaching children how to canoe and climb hills, abseil down cliffs, pitch tents, build fires and cook bangers.
But last year – after more than half a century since he first joined the movement – he was thrown out, he says, like ‘an old slipper’.
What had he done to deserve summary expulsion?
Well, in an outburst which may be considered incendiary in our politically correct times, the British Canoe Union instructor had dared to suggest that a fellow leader, a Muslim woman, might endanger children by taking them out on the water in her niqab face veil.
Brian Walker (pictured) was thrown out of the Scout movement after 50 years of membership
How could she jump in to rescue a Scout in difficulty? How could she navigate her own canoe properly beneath her veil? How could she be sure her instructions were being seen and heard?
Speaking to The Mail on Sunday in the semi-detached home he shares with his wife, Annie, near Bristol, he says the whole experience has left him feeling bruised and sad about the direction he feels the Scouts are heading. ‘This was never, ever a personal attack,’ he says. ‘The very fact that this woman is a Scout leader means she shares my values, my belief in volunteering and giving something back society. But her outfit says a lot more about Islam than it does about scouting.
‘You can’t go abseiling in a niqab, I’m not sure about hiking and I don’t agree with canoeing.
‘She’s at risk of drowning herself, not to mention the fact that it compromises her ability to keep Scouts safe.
‘The movement is about to implode under the weight of its own dogma and absurdity. I took a stand for freedom of thought and freedom of speech.’
The quite extraordinary saga traces back to March 2017, when Mr Walker took umbrage at the spring edition of the Scouts quarterly magazine, Scouting.
He and his wife Annie are evangelical Christians – just like Chief Scout Bear Grylls – and Mr Walker was unhappy with a gushing profile of Mrs Kothdiwala ‘in her full Islamic veil’.
The magazine, which included a faith calendar, said: ‘Zainab cuts a striking figure when she takes the girls out canoeing or goes hiking through the Yorkshire hills.’
The calendar promoted Islam, Buddhism and even the Indian faith of Jainism with brief mentions of Christmas and Easter.
Mr Walker sent the editor a private email, never intended for circulation or publication, asking him to reconsider this kind of coverage. He doesn’t think of himself as a bigot or as a xenophobe, having travelled extensively in more than 60 countries, learned Spanish in Ecuador and karate in Japan, been up the Amazon and survived a military coup in Paraguay.
He was, however, angered by the drift from what he sees as core scouting values and beliefs that trace back to Lord Baden Powell, who founded the movement on Christian principles while wishing it to welcome people of all faiths.
‘How sad and disappointed I am,’ Mr Walker wrote, ‘that the whole Scout mission is to push a politically correct agenda of multi-faith brain washing, anything that denigrates Christianity. In the magazine, children are encouraged to visit a Sikh temple or a mosque yet for a St George’s Day celebration are told “choose your venue carefully, the use of non-religious buildings can ensure the event is welcome to all”.