Unwelcome Government intrusion in Madrassas

“Wherever children access learning, particularly where they spend a lot of time in an out-of-school setting, we want to be confident that they are safe and are being taught in a way which prepares them for life in modern Britain and to actively contribute to society. We want to be sure that teaching is compatible with, and does not undermine, fundamental British values.”

The quotation is from the Government’s call for evidence for its controversial plans to regulate primarily Muslim madrasas. The brief consultation period was for some reason organised over the quiet Christmas period and furthermore uncommonly cut from the usual 12 week period to close on January 11. But already it has been overwhelming rejected by over 500 mosques and Islamic organisations throughout Britain.

It comes after Prime Minister, David Cameron, decided to suddenly target voluntary out-of-school teaching and threatened to close some of them down. “In some madrasas, we’ve got children being taught that they shouldn’t mix with people of other religions; being beaten; swallowing conspiracy theories about Jewish people,” he told the annual Conservative Party Conference in October.

The Government goes through the formality of holding consultations as part of the policy making process ahead of introducing legislative changes. Currently more than 3,000 are being held though probably few as important as altering the fabric of society. It is a constant battle to broaden its powers by seeking to interfere with and control other pillars, including religion.

As reported elsewhere in this paper, the Conservatives are being accused of being trying to regulate religions under the guise of registering “out-of-school” education settings. “Government sanctioned religious education will lead to alienated faith communities and unduly encroaches on the legitimate right of faith providers to teach their children their faith”, the mosques warned in a joint statement warned.

For the first time, it seems that the targeting of Muslims is no longer underhand. The Prime Minister told The Daily Telegraph that these proposals won’t target Christian Sunday schools or scouts i.e. will focus on only on Islamic madrasas. And Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, was asked by Channel 4 News: “I take it if a teenager comes home and says they want to be a member of the C of E you wouldn’t expect teachers to press alarm buttons?”, to which she replied, “No, of course not” even though the website she just launched said that “recent rapid conversion to any new religion” should be considered a warning sign of radicalisation.

The encroachment like so many others into the lives of Muslims is being linked with the discredited Prevent Extremism strategy. “There is growing evidence in other educational settings that the application of ‘S.21 Prevent Duty’ within nurseries, schools, colleges and universities has been misapplied due to the vague nature of terms like extremism and the flawed theory of radicalisation,” the statement said.

The campaign against Government meddling is to ‘Keep Our Masjids and Madrasas Independent and Free From Government Interference.’ Suspicions that it has always been the intention of successive governments to have state control of Islam are not new; and want to repeat the control it already exerts over the Church of England to a large degree. The intrusion is highly unwelcome and unnecessary and the Prime Minister ought to take note to the replies to the consultations.

Andre Carson: Speech to Islamic Circle praised success of all faith-based schools

U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, an Indianapolis Democrat who is one of only two Muslims in Congress, is coming under attack for a speech he gave to the Islamic Circle of North America.

André Carson, created controversy when he told an Islamic Circle of North America convention that; American schools should be modeled after Madrassas, or Islamic schools that are built on the foundations of the Quran, WND reports.

The headline on one blog read: “Rep. Andre Carson: American schools won’t excel until the foundation is the Koran.”

Really? Well, no, Carson didn’t say that. What Carson did say was that schools could learn something about innovation from madrassas, the Islamic religious schools. It is about four sentences in a 19-minute speech, given May 26 in Hartford, Conn., as the group held its annual gathering.

The full speech is about being proud to be a Muslim-American and notes that Muslims have been part of the nation from its inception and have much to offer. The conference’s theme was on addressing Islamophobia.

He said he believed faith-based schools, with smaller class sizes, are able to be more experimental and address different kinds of learners.

“They’re given a different kind of freedom to tap into these young American minds,” Carson said.

Asked if he was saying that the Koran should be in the public school classroom, Carson said: “No, no, no.”

Carson said that whether a religious school teaches the Bible, the Torah, the Bhagavad Gita or the Koran, “there’s something to be said about the success rates of faith-based learning institutions that we might be able to extract some principles or some methodology from.”

Allegations of Physical Abuse in Madrassas

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An investigation by BBC Radio 4’s “File on 4” has discovered that Britain’s madrassas faced more than 400 allegations of physical abuse in the last three years. However, only ten of them were dealt with in court, with successful prosecutions in only two cases (as identified by the BBC). While corporal punishment is still legal in part-time education settings in England, including madrassas, if lessons are taught for fewer than 12.5 hours per week, the revelations of both physical and sexual abuse in Britain’s madraddas are alarming and call for more formal regulations of the schools that are attended by more than 250,000 Muslim children every day.  According to the BBC, the cases of abuse reported may only be the tip of the iceberg, as many families are either pressured by their communities not to make a formal complaint or to withdraw complaints if they were made. Mohammad Shahid Raza, chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, considers the figures to be “very alarming and shocking” and said the issue needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.