Racism, Islamophobia on the rise in Britain

Despite anti-racism legislation, Britain witnessed a 28 per cent increase in racially motivated crime in five years, according to figures by the Ministry of Justice. Between 2006 and 2007, there were 61,000 complaints. The figures are based on cases reported by police in England and Wales. Islamophobia -fuelled by the 9/11 attacks and 7/7 train bombings in London – is blamed for many of the incidents. We’re getting more British Muslims reporting to us that they feel anti-Muslim prejudice is increasing in society, said Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim council of Britain. There are incidents of attacks against mosques and Islamic schools. Last week, Shahid Malik, Britain’s first Muslim minister, criticised what he described as growing hostility to Muslims in the UK. But many others feel that more measures accepting demands of the community have been counter-productive. Vijay Dutt reports.

Less students in Islamic schools

Based on data from the ministry of education, the number of students in Islamic schools has gone down for the first time in the 2006/2007 school year; the number of students decreased by five percent. Schools that have appeared poorly in the news lately have especially decreased enrollment. The Islamic College of Amsterdam had 15% less students in the past year than the previous year. Education inspections had also criticized the school for the academic fulfillment; the Trouw newspaper writes that it was the worst school in terms of Dutch secondary education.

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.

Universities ‘must improve help for vulnerable Muslim students’

Universities must employ Muslim chaplains or advisers and join forces with Islamic schools to break down widening divisions between British society and its Muslim communities, according to a senior Government adviser. In a wide-ranging review of Islamic university syllabuses and the support available to Muslim students in England, published today, Ataullah Siddiqui, will tell institutions that their teaching of Islamic studies is out of date and for years has been conducted in isolation and probably in complete ignorance of the [Muslim] community. Courses should be more job-related, departments should link up with seminaries and madrassas to reflect Islam in Europe post-9/11, they should have more qualified staff and provide better pastoral support for Muslim students, according to Dr Siddiqui.

Dutch Conservatives Want Stricter Laws For Islamic Schools; Controversy About Islamic Schools In The Netherlands Continues

Conservative MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali says her party, the VVD, wants to see stricter legislation governing Islamic schools. The conservatives claim these schools are teaching children to discriminate against women, homosexuals and the indigenous Dutch population. She made her remarks during a parliamentary debate on a new integration bill put forward by Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk. Most parties support the minister’s plans, but the left-wing opposition has criticised a proposal that would make migrants pay part of the cost of their integration courses. They argue this will force many people into debt. Controversy About Islamic Schools In The Netherlands Continues Christian Democrat Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven has criticised a proposal by the conservative VVD party to monitor Islamic schools. She says the proposal breaches an article in the constitution guaranteeing educational freedom. VVD member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali has called for an end to government support for certain Islamic schools. She says they promote intolerance towards homosexuals and Jews, and are opposed to equality for women. The Lower House debate on Islamic education in the Netherlands has further intensified. Education Minister Maria van der Hoeven, a Christian Democrat, has rejected a Conservative proposal to set additional requirements to such schools. The minister has not yet vetoed the motion of Conservative parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but she did say it violated article 23 of the constitution, which provides for freedom of education. The minister also opposes the Conservative’s request that all board members of Islamic schools have Dutch nationality. The other house factions also reject the motion. Although Ms. Hirsi Ali’s resolution has thrown Conservatives themselves into a commotion, the party is not withdrawing it. The house debate will continue next week.