Minnesota directs Tarik ibn Zayad Academy to remedy concerns about prayer sessions, busing

A Saint Paul, Minnesota charter school catering to Muslims complies with federal and state laws, the state Education Department said, but it suggested changes be made in religious areas. The state recommended the Tarik ibn Zayad Academy change its bussing schedule and handling of Friday prayer services, saying that shorter prayer services on most days were acceptable, but a 30-minute block for Friday prayers was not acceptable. The Education Department investigated into the school after a substitute teacher alleged that the school was offering Islamic religious instruction to its students. Minnesota state law requires charter schools to have more autonomy than traditional public schools, but maintains that they must be nonsectarian. The schools executive director, Asad Zaman, said that the findings were significant as no problems were found with the school’s curriculum, but they will comply with the recommended changes.

Muslim Private School in Parisian Suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine to Open March 6

Following a number of delays, the fourth private Islamic school in France will open its doors March 10, 2008. The _ducation et Savoir school will open one primary class for 10 students to complete the academic year. Beginning in the 2008-2009 school year, the school will accommodate 40 high school students. Located in the southern Parisian suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne), the school will follow state-mandated curriculum and offer classes in Arabic and Islam. The school’s director, Mahmoud Awwad, claims that their biggest challenge has not been obtaining an operation license, but has been funding. The school has been funded by private donors and associations in France.

No Koran School – The Islamic Gymnasium in Vienna

260 pupils from Turkey, Morocco and Bosnia are studying at the Islamic Gymnasium in Vienne at the moment. Five prayers per day and controversial discussions about evolutionary theory are part of the curriculum. In the end, the will get a proper Austrian A-Level, the Matura. Emir Numanovic reports.

Experts, Catalans betting on an inclusive school

While adolescents in Catalonia are raising questions about their identity, and children of immigrants are wondering about what it means to belong to two or more cultures, the proposition of integrative schools is making its way into community discourse. Psychologist Said El Kadaoui Mossaoui is asking for structural changes, especially in schools, to become a reality that actually (represents) Catalans living in Catalonia. Among the suggestions of his proposals include introducing Arab literature and authors in classes, to better understand the complexities of people. The secretariat for Immigration raised the need for educators to work self-esteem, cultural and religious empathy, and mutual understanding in the curriculum for adolescents.

Vice Chancellor criticizes the curriculum of Islam lessons at Austrian schools

The lawsuit against a married couple for membership in a terrorist organisation will start in March. Mohamed M. (22) and his wife S. (20) are accused of being involved in the production and spread of a video threat against the “governments of Germany and Austria” in March 2007. In the video message, the military involvement of Austria in Afghanistan was – among other things – attacked. Mohamaed M. also run an Islamist webpage, reports say. In an internet chat, he allegedly spoke about targets in Austira, such as UNO-City, the Opec Headquaters or targets related to the football Euro cup. The couple was arrested last September. The trial will take place in Vienna. Manfred Seeh reports.

Ireland: Proposals include five Muslim schools

Up to five Muslim schools and six Catholic schools could be opened next year, as part of the plans for the New Schools Advisory Committee of the Department of Education. The five Muslim schools planned are for Lucan, Clonee, and Tallaght in Dublin, Tralee, Co Kerry, and Sligo – to cater for the demand of the growing Muslim population in these areas. Chairman of the North Dublin Muslim National School Shahzad Ahmed said: The Catholic schools have catered well for Muslim children but their parents might feel they are uncomfortable when it comes to teaching religion. Two Muslim schools already open in Dublin teach the same curriculum as all schools, but include Arabic language lessons, which include religious instruction.

Dutch launch curriculum on Islam

AMSTERDAM (dpa) – As of the current school year all Dutch primary schools will have access to an official teaching curriculum about Islam for pupils aged four to 12. The new curriculum, the first of its kind in the Netherlands, was officially presented in the As Soeffah primary school in Amsterdam on Monday. The method was developed by the Foundation for Teaching Methods (SLO) and the Board of Islamic Schools Organisation (ISBO), an umbrella organisation of 42 Muslim schools in the Netherlands. This school year all 42 ISBO schools as well as four other Islamic schools in the Netherlands will begin to use the new study material. Public primary schools can also request that the textbooks be used, in accordance with the wishes of parents.

North Rhine/Westphalia Wants to Improve Integration

The central challenge today is: integration by education, explained North-Rhine/Westphalia Prime Minister Juergen Ruettgers (CDU). Earlier, the cabinet approved a twenty-point “plan of action on integration”. The plan includes the development of an Islamic religious curriculum, in co-operation with Muslim organisations, to be taught in German by trained religious teachers and falling under the official school supervision system. The curriculum will be tested with pilot projects in Cologne and Duisburg. The plan of actions is also North-Rhine/Westphalia’s preparation for the forthcoming integration summit of the Federal Government on 14 July.

Making Room For Muslim Educators

By Jeffrey Fleishman The son of an immigrant coal miner, Musa Bagrac was raised in a city of steam and smoke, a place where men walked with crumpled lunch bags in calloused hands and Muslims felt adrift in makeshift mosques shadowed by church steeples. Bagrac moved like an unsure spirit between two worlds. In Hamm, his hometown about 20 miles south of here, he attended St. Joseph’s Elementary, where he sang “O Tannenbaum” in the choir. Twice a week he went to an Islamic school, learning the Koran and about the prophet Muhammad, wondering how to escape the working-class life of most German Turks. “We need poets, doctors and a middle class that German Muslims can aspire to,” said Bagrac, a 28-year-old university student with a wide face and sideburns. “Germans have come to see Islam as a religion of the working class. But Islam is a religion of all classes. That’s why it’s so important to get more Muslim teachers into schools.” Bagrac is a missionary of sorts in this nation of 3 million Muslims – nearly 4% of the population. He and about a dozen other students at the University of Muenster are enrolled in the first course of its kind in Germany: a curriculum preparing Muslim instructors to teach Islam in public schools while being sensitive to Western culture. Such ambitions have arisen against the backdrop of a troubling arc of violence, from the Sept. 11 attacks to last year’s train bombings in Madrid to this summer’s assaults on London’s transit system. The Islamic extremists’ war against Europe is widening, and conservative and liberal politicians across the continent are perplexed about how to better integrate a Muslim community that has doubled since the 1980s but remains in a largely parallel universe. Young Muslims such as Bagrac personify the intersection of the Islamic creed and European life. They carry iPods and hang out at dance clubs. Many are more attuned to reality TV than the bloody politics of Iraq. But they also pray five times a day, wanting to be devout without being stereotyped as fanatical. Most believe they can keep their faith despite the increasingly secular atmosphere around them. They move not apprehensively, but in a manner that suggests there is an invisible yet impenetrable divide between them and native Europeans. Some are demure. Others are quiet but forthright. A few are angry. They sip nonalcoholic beer and sweet tea; some of the more intense among them quote from both the Bible and the Koran. They have learned how to politely refuse “currywurst,” or pork sausage, sandwiches. And most have grown used to, though some still blush at, the public nudity in parks and on billboards advertising sex shows. This is a continent where Christmas, Hanukkah and Ramadan coexist, and national constitutions eloquently uphold human rights. But the rising militancy among young Muslims has challenged those constitutions and cast a shadow on the meaning of being European. “Learning Islam in school will finally give Muslim children the feeling of being home,” Bagrac said of his course, which awaits final state approval and may start graduating prospective teachers within three years. […]