Muslim Gang Forces Paris Cafe To Censor Cartoon Show

PARIS — A gang of young Muslims wielding iron rods has forced a Paris cafe to censor an exhibition of cartoons ridiculing religion, the owners of the establishment said on Friday. Some 50 drawings by well-known French cartoonists were installed in the Mer a Boire cafe in the working-class Belleville neighborhood of northeast Paris, as part of an avowedly atheist show entitled, “Neither god nor god”. The collection targeted all religions – including Islam – but there were no representations of the Prophet Mohammed such as sparked the recent crisis between the West and the Islamic world, according to Marianne who is one of the cafe’s three owners. “We used to give glasses of water to a group of local boys aged between 10 and 12 who played football across the street. On Tuesday a few came in, flung the water on the ground and accused us of being racists,” said Marianne, who did not wish to give her family name. “Later more of them came back with sticks and iron rods and tried to smash the pictures. They managed it with a few of them. With the customers we chased them away, but they kept coming back,” she said. Later the cafe-owners were approached by a group of older youths. “They said they did not approve of what the youngsters had done. But what we were doing was unacceptable, too. They warned us that if we didn’t take down the cartoons they would call in the Muslim Brothers who would burn the cafe down,” said Marianne. “They kept saying: ‘This is our home. You cannot act like this here’,” she said. Refusing to dismantle the exhibition, the owners have placed white sheets of paper inscribed with the word ‘censored’ over the cartoons that were targeted by the gang. “To take down the cartoons would have been a surrender. But on the other hand we cannot expose ourselves to this kind of violence. This way you can still see the pictures if you lift the paper,” said Marianne. One of the cartoons that aroused the wrath of the youths was a bar scene, in which the barman offers a drink to an obviously inebriated man who says “God is great”. The caption is: “The sixth pillar of Islam. The bar pillar.” In France a “bar pillar” is a barfly or drunk. The aim of the exhibition was to poke fun at all religions, according to cartoonists who took part. “Putting on this type of show in this place was not in the least a provocation. Unless you think that freedom of expression in itself is a provocation,” the cartoonist Charb told Le Parisien newspaper. The Belleville neighborhood of Paris’ 20th arrondissement is racially-mixed, with a large population of North African origin, but Marianne said that there were few outward signs of religious extremism. “There are areas near here which do have a reputation for Islamists. But here it’s different. These are street gangs for whom religion has become a kind of mark of identity,” she said. The owners of the Mer a Boire, which means “the sea you can drink” and opened in September, have filed suit with the police.

Le Cfcm Échoue À Résoudre Sa Crise Interne

The Muslim Council has so far failed to resolve its internal crisis over representation. The dispute centers around the representation given to the FNMF (National Federation of French Muslims) which tends to be associated with Moroccans. Currently no solution is available, and Council functions are being delayed, but officialy think it should be resolved soon. {(continued below in French)} Le bureau du Conseil fran_ais du culte musulman (CFCM) a _chou_ jeudi _ r_soudre sa crise interne n_e des divergences au sein d’une de ses composantes, la F_d_ration nationale des musulmans de France (FNMF), ce qui paralyse son action. “Devant la difficult_ de r_unir les membres du CFCM autour d’une solution n_goci_e, le bureau ex_cutif initiera incessamment une r_union de conciliation supervis_e par les d_l_gu_s du bureau du CFCM”, indique un communiqu_ sign_ du pr_sident, Dalil Boubakeur, et d’un vice-pr_sident, Fouad Alaoui. Cette r_union, selon le communiqu_, doit permettre de “d_bloquer la situation entre les parties antagonistes et arr_ter un accord global permettant au CFCM de reprendre normalement sa mission”. La crise r_side dans la repr_sentation de la FNMF (proche du Maroc) dans le bureau du CFCM, plusieurs responsables de cette association contestant le pr_sident, Mohamed Bechari. “Les adversaires de M. Bechari ne sont pas venus jeudi participer _ nos travaux, alors qu’ils _taient invit_s. La r_union de conciliation devrait se tenir bient_t _ la Mosqu_e d’Evry, sa date n’a pas _t_ fix_e”, a d_clar_ _ l’AFP M. Boubakeur, recteur de la Grande Mosqu_e de Paris. “Il y a constat de non-accord, pas de d_saccord. Cette crise paralyse le CFCM, et j’esp_re que nous allons la r_soudre”, a-t-il ajout_, pr_cisant que le conseil d’administration du CFCM pr_vu cette semaine, et auquel devait participer le ministre de l’Int_rieur Nicolas Sarkozy _tait report_. “Nous esp_rons tenir ce conseil le 13 mai”, a-t-il ajout_. Ce conseil devrait notamment ent_riner les choix des aum_niers musulmans des arm_es, des prisons et des h_pitaux. Un “compromis” sur la repr_sentation de la FNMF avait _t_ r_cemment _labor_, avec le concours du minist_re de l’Int_rieur. “Si ce compromis est accept_, et que les probl_mes qui nous bloquaient sont r_solus, nous allons enfin attaquer les probl_mes de fond, comme la formation, l’affaire des caricatures, les questions importantes qui se posent aux musulmans fran_ais”, avait r_cemment soulign_ M. Boubakeur.

Multi-Culturalism Is Not Wanted In Italy: Premier

ROME: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has attacked immigration and foreign cultures in an apparent bid to raise his poor ratings before a general election in two weeks’ time. We don’t want Italy to become a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural country. We are proud of our culture and traditions, Berlusconi told Italian public radio in an interview. We want to accept foreigners who are fleeing countries where their life and freedom are threatened but we don’t want to open our doors to everyone who comes here, creating problems and dangers for Italians, he said. Berlusconi’s centre-right coalition, which also includes the xenophobic far-right Northern League, is trailing the centre-left opposition in the opinion polls. The latest survey, published on March 24, credited the centre-left alliance led by Romano Prodi with more than 51% of the vote in the April 9-10 election, compared to nearly 47% for the right-wing coalition led by Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party. On a personal level, only 34.5% favoured Berlusconi to lead Italy again, compared to 43.4% for Prodi, a former president of the European Commission. But, perhaps crucially for the prime minister, the survey showed around 30% of the electorate were still undecided. I shivered the other day when I heard (Communist Party leader Oliviero) Diliberto say on television that he had no problem with the introduction of lessons on _Qur’anic religion’ in schools because, according to him, in a few years’ time half the pupils would be Catholic and the other half Muslims, Berlusconi said. His comments drew a sharp reaction from the Democrats of the Left (DS), the leading party in the centre-left opposition alliance.The fact that the head of the government has not yet realised that Italy is already a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious country says a lot about the government’s understanding of immigration, a leading DS politician commented. A report published earlier on Monday showed the number of immigrants had doubled to 3.3mn between 2002 and 2005, of whom 540,000 were illegal migrants. The report by the ISMU foundation on multi-ethnic studies said immigrants owned 14% of the country’s property and made up 32.2% of its prison population, even though they represented just 5.7% of the population nationwide.

Nicolas Sarkozy Présente Son Projet De Loi Sur L’immigration

Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkiozy presented his proposal on immigration to the Council of Ministers. The objective of the new law is to make French immigration more “choosy”. More details on the bill and reactions are in the complete story. {(Article continues below in French)} Le texte pr_voit ainsi que l’obtention d’un visa de long s_jour sera indispensable pour la d_livrance d’une carte de s_jour temporaire, “sauf quelques exceptions”, lit-on dans un communiqu_ du gouvernement. Les migrants admis pour la premi_re fois en France et souhaitant s’y installer durablement devront signer un “contrat d’accueil et d’int_gration” pr_voyant une formation civique et linguistique. Avant d’obtenir une carte de r_sident de dix ans, l’_tranger devra satisfaire _ trois conditions d’int_gration: l’engagement personnel de respecter les “principes qui r_gissent la R_publique fran_aise”, le “respect effectif de ces principes” et une “connaissance suffisante” de la langue fran_aise. La d_livrance et le renouvellement des titres de s_jour des _tudiants _trangers seront facilit_s d_s lors que leur projet d’_tude aura _t_ valid_ dans leur pays avant leur d_part. Les jeunes dipl_m_s _trangers obtenant leur master en France pourront compl_ter leur formation par une premi_re exp_rience professionnelle, _galement en France, “dans la perspective du retour dans leur pays d’origine”. La r_gle subordonnant l’entr_e d’un travailleur _tranger _ l’autorisation de l’administration du travail sera assouplie dans les m_tiers et les zones g_ographiques qui connaissent des difficult_s de recrutement. La cr_ation d’une carte de s_jour “comp_tences et talents”, d’une dur_e de trois ans, facilitera l’accueil d’_trangers “dont la personnalit_ et le projet constituent des atouts pour le d_veloppement et le rayonnement de la France”. Le projet de loi transpose en outre des directives europ_ennes permettant de simplifier le r_gime du s_jour des Europ_ens en France. REGROUPEMENT FAMILIAL Un deuxi_me volet d_finit les conditions de d_livrance des cartes de s_jour temporaire pour “vie priv_e et familiale”. Ainsi, la possibilit_ pour un _tranger en situation irr_guli_re depuis dix ans de se voir d_livrer automatiquement une telle carte est supprim_e. Afin de lutter contre les “mariages de complaisance”, la carte de r_sident de dix ans ne sera attribu_e au conjoint de Fran_ais qu’apr_s trois ans de mariage au lieu de deux. Le conjoint devra en outre manifester “son int_gration _ la soci_t_ fran_aise” et faire preuve d’une “connaissance suffisante de la langue fran_aise”. Le d_lai de communaut_ de vie permettant aux conjoints de Fran_ais d’acqu_rir la nationalit_ fran_aise sera port_ de d_claration de deux _ quatre ans, et _ cinq ans en l’absence de r_sidence en France pendant trois ans. Un immigr_ ne pourra demander _ _tre rejoint par sa famille qu’apr_s une dur_e de s_jour r_gulier en France de dix-huit mois, et non plus d’un an. Ses ressources, d’un montant au moins _gal au smic, devront provenir de son travail et non des revenus d’assistance. Il devra, en outre, d_montrer qu’il “se conforme aux principes qui r_gissent la R_publique fran_aise”. “Lorsqu’il y a neuf personnes qui demandent _ immigrer en France, il y en a huit qui, aujourd’hui, le font pour des raisons familiales et une seule qui le fait pour des raisons _conomiques”, a expliqu_ le porte-parole du gouvernement lors du compte rendu du conseil des ministres. “Donc, _ l’instar de ce qui se fait dans un certain nombre d’autres pays europ_ens, l’id_e est de r?_quilibrer un peu les choses”, a ajout_ Jean-Fran_ois Cop_.

Imams In Spain Say Muslims And Jews Must Confront Extremism

SEVILLE, Spain, March 23 — Scores of rabbis and imams gathered here this week to discuss what they called a deepening crisis in relations between Muslims and Jews, saying religious leaders must confront religious extremism and the failure to make meaningful progress on the conflict in the Middle East. The meeting did not produce any sweeping agreements, but it was nonetheless heralded by many participants as a breakthrough, bringing together religious leaders who have the potential to bridge the divisions between Muslims and Jews, but who rarely interact. Leaders who seldom cross paths despite living only minutes apart, like ultra-Orthodox rabbis from Israel and former members of the radical Palestinian group Hamas, spent four days in a hotel here sitting in the same rooms, eating the same meals and occasionally talking, guardedly at first, but increasingly freely as the conference progressed. You have some of the most fundamentalist people from both religions here, said Eliezer Simcha Weisz, a rabbi in Emek Hefer, Israel. These people would never sit together in Israel. The meeting, organized by the French foundation Hommes de Parole, which promotes dialogue between conflicting groups, included hostile exchanges and pointed arguments about terrorism, Israeli settlements and claims to Jerusalem. But it also led to some uninhibited displays of camaraderie, like rabbis and imams singing and dancing together during an impromptu musical performance in the hotel lobby near midnight. But sporadic displays of conviviality did not temper the underlying tension. At the opening ceremony on Sunday, the chief rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, noting that most Muslims are moderates, asked the imams in the audience: Why don’t you speak when Bin Laden invokes your religion to justify terrorism? Why don’t you express yourselves in a loud voice? Even discussions as seemingly innocuous as the virtues of peace often turned into arguments. No one can speak about peace while there is occupation, said Imad al-Falouji, a former Hamas member and one of the most prominent imams in Gaza, referring to the Israeli presence in the West Bank. But the participants appeared to agree broadly that tensions between Muslims and Jews had grown worse in recent years in part because religious leaders had lost their voice, allowing politicians, diplomats and, most worrisome, extremists to dictate relations between the two religions. Religion has been misused by the fundamentalists, who have taken over religion and made us hostages, said Andr_ Azoulay, a Jew from Morocco who is a senior adviser to King Mohammed VI. They could do so because we were silent. Rabbi Daniel Sperber, president of the Institute for Advanced Torah Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, said that religious leaders had many shared beliefs and might be able to reach agreements where diplomats had failed. We haven’t even begun to tap the resources of the religious world, he said. This is the first stage, trying to bring people together to establish some sort of common agenda. At the conclusion of the conference on Wednesday, the leaders issued a joint communiqu_ denouncing the use of religion to justify violence and urging respect for religious symbols, an apparent response to the recent protests of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The declaration also included an implicit condemnation of statements from Hamas and the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling for the destruction of Israel. We condemn any incitement against a faith or people, let alone any call for their elimination, and we urge authorities to do likewise, the statement said. But the real value of the conference, most participants said, was in the informal meetings that took place in the hallways and at the dinner tables, allowing participants to put faces on people often portrayed as the enemy back home. Ashour Kullab, a Muslim leader from Gaza who had never spoken with a rabbi before coming here, said he spoke with two rabbis on the first morning of the conference. There were no problems with them, he said. They listened and I listened. They are my friends now. The encounter, he said, could never have happened in the Gaza Strip, where extremists do not tolerate friendships with Jews. If I go with them in the streets in Gaza, I might get shot, he said. The group first met last year in Brussels. In bringing the conference to Seville this year, organizers hoped to recapture some of the relative harmony that is said to have governed Muslim-Jewish relations here during the Middle Ages, when Spain was a Muslim-controlled territory called Al Andalus. That sense of cooperation seemed to find its way into many discussions. During a coffee break early in the conference, Stuart Altshuler, a rabbi from Mission Viejo, Calif., got into an angry dispute with Mr. Falouji, the imam from Gaza, over the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. But the two made up shortly after, saying they had benefited from the exchange. I was able to meet with Falouji from Gaza, Rabbi Altshuler said the next day. I’ve dreamed of a chance to do that.

Muhammad Cartoons Appear At London Rally

About 200 people held a free-speech demonstration in central London on Saturday, with several carrying posters of the Danish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that infuriated much of the Muslim world. Protest organizers withdrew their open invitation for the protesters to display the Prophet Muhammad cartoons on Thursday. Peter Risdon, an organizer of the March for Free Expression, initially had announced that he would allow protesters to display banners and wear T-shirts depicting those images. On Thursday, however, Risdon asked demonstrators not to show the cartoons out of fear their display would alienate sympathetic Muslims and give credibility to a far-right political group, the British National Party, which has used the cartoons as a rallying cry. “The principle of freedom of expression is used by some as a Trojan horse, as a proxy for racism and Islamophobia,” Risdon wrote in an explanation on the Web site. The decision prompted angry responses on the Web site – and at the march. “It’s my freedom, everyone’s freedom, to expose these pictures and encourage everyone to do the same,” said Reza Moradi, 29, a protester who identified himself as an Iranian who has lived in Britain for eight years. Moradi was later questioned by police after someone lodged a complaint regarding the “nature of his placard,” which featured a copy of the Danish cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, a London police spokeswoman said. After a brief, heated exchange with officers, Moradi left the protest on his own and then rejoined the demonstration later. Nine bearded men, whom police identified as Muslim counter-protesters, arrived at the protest wearing army fatigues and black-and-white head scarves. They were escorted away by police, but were not detained. “They were told they were free to go wherever they wanted, but because they had scarves covering their faces and they were chanting, officers remained with them,” Metropolitan Police spokesman Jonathan Southgate said. Similar cartoon-related protests in London have died down in recent weeks compared with last month, when one rally drew thousands.

Denmark: Danish Imam Says Aim Was Peace In Cartoon Row

The controversial Danish imam accused of stirring uproar in the Muslim world over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed has defended his actions, saying they were aimed at forging peace, not causing bloodshed. “History will give us credit because of our efforts to keep Europe away from any further violence,” said Ahmed Abu Laban, the leader of the Islamic Community in Denmark, in an interview with AFP. Abu Laban, who is accused of instigating a mass campaign against Denmark in the Arab-Muslim world which sparked deadly riots that killed more than 50 people, said the protests were not the start of a clash of civilizations. “Some people would presume it is the beginning of a clash of civilization, but we call it the engagement of civilizations,” said Abu Laban. He spoke to AFP while attending the “International Conference for the Defense of the Prophet” organized by Muslim religious leaders and being held Wednesday and Thursday in Bahrain. Abu Laban brought the cartoon matter to Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the top Islamic scholarly institution, shortly after caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed were published in a Danish newspaper in September 2005. Abu Laban and other Danish imams then took a 43-page dossier on a tour of the Middle East, including the 12 controversial cartoons and three other pictures that had been sent to Muslims by anonymous people. “We sent our delegation to Egypt, we were trying to expand the platform of dialogue to the concerned people and more countries,” he said. In his view, Denmark became the focal point of Muslim rage because of the refusal of Danish leaders to heed the Muslim point of view in the controversy that pitted Western values of free speech against religious beliefs. Muslims believe any images of the prophet are blasphemous. “Denmark paid for the Islamic-European conflict,” said Abu Laban, the leader of the Muslim Faith Society in Copenhagen. Despite widespread calls for a formal apology, the Danish government refused, citing its belief in protecting freedom of speech. However, the editor of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper that initially published the cartoons eventually issued an apology. The cartoons included portrayals of the prophet wearing a time-bomb shaped turban and showed him as a knife-wielding nomad flanked by shrouded women. Initially passing with little comment, they were later reprinted in a Norwegian magazine and then by European, Arab and online media, prompting international uproar. Many Danish products were also the subject of widespread boycotts in the Muslim world. Abu Laban stressed that Muslims in Denmark, who make up about three percent of the population, suffer discrimination and that he was made a “scapegoat” by the Danish press for his role as a Muslim community leader. “We suffer marginalization… In the subconscious of most of the leaders in Denmark they reject us. This is the name of the game. They don’t like to deal with us like partners,” he said. “Our center (Muslim Faith Society) is the most important one,” he said. The Danish press “cannot attack somebody who is not known, so they decided to choose me as a scapegoat,” he said. “I predicted that the government will face trouble and will search for a scapegoat.” Five other Danish imams attended the conference with Abu Laban, which organizers said brought together around 300 scholars, preachers, heads of Islamic associations as well as Arab and Muslim community leaders from Europe. The aim was to explore a strategy that could prevent a possible repeat of the crisis sparked by the publication of the cartoons. “We are in the focal point in Denmark, under the constant attack by the global media. We are here because it has become a global issue for Muslims,” said Abu Laban. “This conference is not meant to expose or blackmail Denmark, it is a rather progressive attitude on how Muslims can be united in this noble cause, to honor and to guarantee the respect their Prophet deserves. Abu Laban also blasted Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen for his “ineffective” response to the crisis. “I am more concerned with the interests of Denmark than the prime minister. He is playing in a very ineffective way.” Abu Laban criticized the premier’s reaction to advertisements put out over the weekend by Arla Foods, a Danish-Swedish dairy firm, which was a victim of a Danish boycott. “The Arla Foods company denounces and rejects the cartoons published by the Danish newspaper, mock the Prophet Mohammed and refuses any justifications for the act,” the corporation said in full-page advertisements taken out in papers across the Middle East. Rasmussen said he “disagreed” with the campaign. “Yesterday, he criticized Arla Foods,”said Abu Laban. “If this campaign shows some respect… it should be encouraged, not the opposite.”

Terrorism and Community Relations

In this report we consider how the threat of international terrorism has affected relations between communities in this country. We outline existing problems of community relations, examining developments since the riots in the summer of 2001. We recall government policy initiatives based on analyses such as the Cantle report, as well as issues such as asylum and immigration, which although separate from community relations, have frequently been confused with them. We also note efforts to tackle racism in police forces, following the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

Download the report

British Court Rules Against Muslim Girl

Britain’s highest court ruled Wednesday that a school acted properly in refusing to allow a student to wear Muslim clothing of her choice rather than the attire permitted under school policy. Shabina Begum, now 17, last year won a Court of Appeal ruling establishing that Denbigh High School in Luton infringed on her rights by not allowing her to wear a jilbab – a long, flowing gown that covers her entire body except for her face and hands. The school, where four-fifths of the students are Muslim, allows students to wear trousers, skirts or a traditional shalwar kameez, which consists of trousers and a tunic. Girls were allowed to wear head scarves. The school, which appealed its case to the Law Lords, Britain’s highest court, argued that the jilbab posed a health and safety risk and might cause divisions among pupils, with those wearing traditional dress possibly being seen as better Muslims. Lord Justice Bingham said in the 5-0 ruling Wednesday that the school “had taken immense pains to devise a uniform policy which respected Muslim beliefs but did so in an inclusive, unthreatening and uncompetitive way.” “The rules laid down were as far from being mindless as uniform rules could ever be. The school had enjoyed a period of harmony and success to which the uniform policy was thought to contribute,” Bingham said. He noted that the head teacher at the school at the time was a Muslim, and the rules were acceptable to mainstream Muslims. Begum was sent home from school in September 2002 for wearing the jilbab. “We’re not sure if we’re going to take it to the European Court or not,” Begum told Sky News. “I think I have made my point at this stage,” she said, adding that she hoped the case encouraged others to “speak out.” Lord Hoffmann said Begum could have moved to a single-sex school where her religion did not require a jilbab or a school where she was allowed to wear one. “Instead, she and her brother decided that it was the school’s problem. They sought a confrontation and claimed that she had a right to attend the school of her own choosing in the clothes she chose to wear,” Hoffmann wrote. Lord Nicholls, while joining in ruling for the school, said he believed the court may have underestimated the difficulty she would have faced in changing schools.

Warning On Muslim Schools ‘Abuse’

Muslims could face a child abuse scandal on a par with the Catholic Church, a report has warned. A group of Muslim leaders says the community is in denial about child abuse in religious schools, known as madrasas. The UK has about 700. They want ministers to regulate the schools, saying 100,000 children do not have appropriate legal protection. The government said recent changes on the vetting of those teaching children automatically included madrasas. Most of the madrasas in the UK are attached to local mosques or Islamic institutions. Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, co-author of the report and head of lobby group the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, said that child abuse existed in all societies – and that it would be na_ve of Muslim communities to think it did not affect them. Failing to protect the children in madrasas because of ‘cultural sensitivities’ is nonsense – it is racist to differentiate between children and to fail to offer that protection? He said despite anecdotal reports of abuse, it was a taboo subject with little discussion within the community. This, he said, meant victims had no-one to turn to. “Sweeping the issue of child abuse in madrasas under the carpet is not a solution,” said Dr Siddiqui. “If nothing is done now we may face an avalanche of child sex-abuse scandals, decades afterwards, similar to those that rocked the Roman Catholic Church. “To protect the integrity of these valued institutions, it is important that all madrasas put in place transparent and accountable polices and procedures.” Traditional schools Madrasas are similar to Christian Sunday schools. Children of school age attend to learn the Koran and ethics of the faith. While many madrasas are small community organisations associated with local mosques, the largest educate hundreds of pupils. The schools play a central role in many Muslim communities – but Dr Siddiqui said very few had policies in place that meet the requirements of the Children Act 1989, a key law. The report praised two councils which had taken steps on child protection in madrasas – Kirklees and Blackburn – but accused most of being reluctant to engage with the Muslim community. Ann Cryer, MP for Keighley, said she commended the authors for speaking out and attacked local authorities for not acting. “I have had reports of physical abuse in madrasas in my own constituency,” said Mrs Cryer. “Failing to protect the children in madrasas because of ‘cultural sensitivities’ is nonsense. “Are we saying that British Asian children are not entitled to the protection of the law? It is racist to differentiate between children and to fail to offer that protection.” ‘Vetting and barring’ A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills, which has responsibility for child safety, said that recent changes to improve child safety automatically included madrasas – and that the schools had to act within the same law as others. “Under the new vetting and barring system, there will be requirements on employers to check all those who frequently teach, care for or supervise children – including all those in madrasas,” said the spokesman. “Employers should carry out criminal record checks on anyone working closely with children, including in madrasas. Any allegations of abuse should be immediately reported to the police.” Children’s charity the NSPCC said it welcomed the report and called for robust research into incidents of child abuse within Muslim communities. “We are concerned that madrasas are not required to follow the same child protection procedures as schools and other statutory bodies,” said Diana Sutton of the charity. “The government must require them and other faith groups to put safeguarding policies in place and ensure that these are rigorously enforced.”