Friday, December 10, 2010

UK: Anti-Semitism Rampant in Muslim Schools

by Soeren Kern

Muslim religious schools operating in Britain are using poisonously anti-Semitic textbooks from Saudi Arabia to teach children as young as six that Jews are descended from "monkeys" and "pigs," and that Zionists are plotting to take over the world. The schools are also instructing children on how to chop off the hands and feet of a thief as per Islamic Sharia law. These are just a few of the findings of a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) exposé of Saudi-run Muslim schools in Britain that aired on the prestigious Panorama documentary television program on November 22.

The Panorama investigation identified a network of over 40 such after-school and weekend programs catering to about 5,000 children, from ages six to eighteen. The schools offer the official Saudi national curriculum and run under the umbrella of "Saudi Students Clubs and Schools in the UK and Ireland." Panorama says the schools are overseen by the cultural bureau of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London, and that a building used for one of the schools (in Ealing, West London) is owned by the Saudi government.

Saudi officials quoted by the BBC disavowed direct responsibility for the schools and clubs, and described the teachings cited in the program as having been "taken out of their historical context." But BBC Newsnight exposed similar anti-Semitic sentiments in Saudi textbooks at a Saudi school in London in 2007. At the time, the Saudi government promised a "comprehensive" review of all offensive material in its curriculum. (Saudi Arabia also promotes anti-Semitic hate-speech in the United States.)

According to Panorama, one Saudi textbook asks children to spell out the "reprehensible" qualities of Jews and explains that Jews are "cursed by God." Another textbook teaches that the penalty for sodomy is execution, and outlines differing perspectives as to whether death should be by stoning, immolation by fire, or throwing offenders off a cliff.

Yet another Saudi textbook explains the punishments prescribed by Sharia law for thievery, including the amputation of hands and feet – a hand for the first offence, a foot for the second. A BBC video shows a textbook illustration of a hand and a foot marked to show where amputations should be made.

Muslim teenagers studying the Saudi national curriculum in Britain in the hopes of getting into a Saudi university are also being taught that Zionists are plotting to take over the world for Jews. This harks back to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fraudulent anti-Semitic text first published in Russia in 1903, that purports to describe a Jewish plan to achieve global domination. Although the "Protocols" were exposed as a hoax in 1921, the Saudi textbook for tenth-graders insists there are "many proofs" of the "veracity" of the Protocols.

During its investigation, Panorama also compared more than 100 websites of schools of all faiths, and was struck by the unequivocally anti-Western tone of many Muslim schools. Panorama voiced concern about a Muslim school ethos that reinforces separatism, either by living in separate enclaves or by rejecting the core values of a liberal democracy, such as tolerance, equality between men and women and respect for man-made laws.

Panorama says many Muslim parents are sending their children to the Saudi-run schools to shield them from Western influence. But by teaching an overly narrow, Islamic-focused curriculum, these schools are turning out students ill-equipped for life in anything other than a Muslim ghetto -- which is a recipe for social conflict.

The Muslim population in Britain has been rising rapidly in recent years, and research (here, here, here and here) by the Centre For Ethnicity and Citizenship at Bristol University shows that Muslim children are the most segregated in Britain.

Another study, the Channel 4 Dispatches Muslim Survey (complete results here), one of the most comprehensive surveys to date of Muslim opinion in Britain, shows that a new generation of Muslims is being raised to be much more radical than its parents. It also shows that Muslim integration into British society has effectively come to a halt. Although immigrants to Britain usually have tended to become more secular and less religious than their parents by the second generation, the survey shows Muslims have gone in precisely the opposite direction.

The Dispatches survey shows that today's young British Muslims are less liberal and more devout than their parents. Their beliefs render many of them determined not just to be different, but also to be separate from the rest of Britain. Although it is often assumed that those holding the most radical anti-Western views are from the lower socio-economic classes, the survey shows that the well-off and well-educated are just as likely to identify with radical Islam.

Among other findings, the survey shows that an overwhelming number of British Muslims believe free speech should not extend to insulting their religion, and that nearly one quarter of them believe the 2005 terrorist attacks in London were justified. More ominously, one-third of British Muslims would rather live under Sharia law, and almost 30% say they dream of Britain one day becoming an Islamic state.

Michael Gove, the education minister in the government of British Prime Minister David Cameron, told Panorama that the government would not tolerate "anti-Semitic material of any kind in English schools." (Gove is the author of Celsius 7/7, a brilliant analysis of Britain's wilful blindness in refusing to grasp the true nature and extent of the Islamist war upon the West). Gove also said that Ofsted, the government-appointed agency with oversight of education and children's services, would be "reporting to us shortly" on measures to tighten oversight of part-time schools.

The Saudi schools in Britain have, further, been able to get away with propagating anti-Semitism for nearly 30 years because, unlike full-time schools, part-time schools do not have to register with the Department for Education, and thus do not get inspected.

Not that inspections would make much difference. An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph recently established that Ofsted has published positive reports praising Muslim schools for their contribution to community cohesion, even in the case of a school which openly states that Muslims "oppose the lifestyle of the West." The Ofsted inspector responsible for many of the reports has been accused of having links to radical Islamist organisations. The newspaper also revealed that another Ofsted inspector is the chief executive of a radical Muslim educational foundation, IBERR, which describes Islamic schools as "one of the most important factors which protect Muslim children from the onslaught of Euro-centrism, homosexuality, racism, and secular traditions."

In one instance, Ofsted inspected the Madani Girls' School, a private Islamic school in London's East End. In its official report, Ofsted says the school leaves its pupils "well-prepared for life in a multicultural society." However, the Madani Girls' School's website states: "If we oppose the lifestyle of the West, then it does not seem sensible that the teachers and the system which represents that lifestyle should educate our children."

In another instance, Ofsted inspected the Tawhid Boys' School in Hackney, north London. The Ofsted report says the curriculum is "good … broad and balanced." However, the school's prospectus says the curriculum is kept strictly "within the bounds of Sharia."

Ofsted has also cleared schools run by supporters of the extremist Hizb ut Tahrir, which would like to replace the British state with a dictatorship under Islamic law. The schools, which belong to the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation, teach children key elements of Hizb ut Tahrir ideology, which says that integration as "dangerous" and says that British Muslims should "fight assimilation" into British society. It also states that "those [Muslims] who believe in democracy are Kafir," or apostates, and it orders all Muslims to keep apart from non-believers, and boycott "corrupt" British elections and political processes.

One of the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation's trustees is the author of a Hizb ut-Tahrir pamphlet titled Education and Identity, which attacks the British national curriculum for its "systematic indoctrination" of Muslim children "to build model British citizens." The trustee criticizes "attempts to integrate Muslim children" into British society as an effort "to produce new generations that reject Islam." She also describes English as "one of the most damaging subjects" a school can teach, and attacks fairy tales, saying they "reflect secular and immoral beliefs that contradict the viewpoint of Islam."

Ofsted has also passed responsibility for the inspection of dozens of Muslim schools to a new private "faith schools watchdog," the Bridge Schools Inspectorate, which is co-controlled by Islamic schools' own lobbying and trade body, the Association of Muslim Schools. The Bridge Schools Inspectorate allows Muslim head teachers to inspect each other's schools and return favourable verdicts.

A November 22 report published by the center-right think tank Policy Exchange concludes that the British education system is currently "not equipped" to prevent "extremist influences" in faith schools. Titled "Faith Schools We Can Believe In: Ensuring that Tolerant and Democratic Values are Upheld in Every Part of Britain's Education System," the report contains a number of recommendations about how to protect children from religious fundamentalism in the classroom. Among those, the report calls for abolishing the Bridge Schools Inspectorate and the establishment of a Due Diligence Unit to assess all schools, their trustees and staff, against a statutory definition of extremism.

Soeren Kern

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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