Scathing report could shut Muslim school for promoting Salafi beliefs

21st May 2014

Ofsted inspectors have harshly criticised an independent Muslim school for promoting Salafi fundamentalist beliefs and rated the school as inadequate, in a possible prelude to it being closed or taken over by the Department for Education. In their unpublished draft report, the inspectors said the school – the Olive Tree primary school in Luton – fails to prepare its pupils “for life in modern Britain, as opposed to life in a Muslim state”, and that its library contains books that are “abhorrent to British society” in their depiction of punishments under sharia law.

“Some books in the children’s library contain fundamentalist Islamic beliefs (Salafi) or are set firmly within a Saudi Arabian socio-religious context. Some of the views promoted by these books, for example about stoning women, have no place in British society,” the report argues.

But the school’s governors and trustees vehemently denied the findings of the inspectors, who had been forced to cut short their visit last week after being confronted by parents upset by their questioning of pupils about attitudes to homosexuality.

Farooq Murad, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, on Wednesday wrote to Ofsted’s chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, asking him to clarify the watchdog’s policy on teaching about homosexuality in independent faith schools, in the wake of the Olive Tree inspection.

“We have a large number of books about different faiths, which the inspectors failed to notice, including The Diary of Ann Frank,” said Farasat Latif, the school’s chair of governors, who said the library also included works of fiction by authors such as Roald Dahl. Latif also denied the school was Salafist – a reference to the conservative form of Islam most associated with Saudi Arabia – although he said some members of staff might describe themselves that way.

The inspectors also criticised the mixed school – which had about 60 pupils – for inadequate attention to national guidelines on safeguarding and child protection, although it said pupils were well supervised and that staff appointments and record checks were followed correctly. The draft report criticised the Olive Tree school’s teaching, although it noted that pupils achieved good results in national standardised tests and were well behaved. It also praised the teaching of Arabic as “skilful”.

The report makes no reference to homosexuality, although the inspectors wrote: “Pupils’ contact with people from different cultures, faiths and traditions is too limited to promote tolerance and respect for the views, lifestyles and customs of other people.”

Norwalk supports mosque after lawsuit, fed inquiry

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — When Norwalk received a proposal to build the city’s first mosque, it was rejected by officials who said the structure was too big for the largely residential area and would create too much traffic.

The applicants filed a federal lawsuit alleging religious discrimination and the U.S. Justice Department, which has been intervening in mosque projects around the country, launched an inquiry into the handling of the proposal.

Now, the city is moving to settle the lawsuit and support a version of the closely watched project. Norwalk officials say religion was never part of their considerations.

‘‘It was not based on any religious bias,’’ Mayor Richard Moccia said. ‘‘I can’t recall any zoning officer or any city official ever commenting that it happened to be a mosque and that’s the reason they were opposing it.’’

Moccia said the Justice Department wrote about two months ago, seeking information such as minutes of a zoning hearing on the project. He said the city responded and has not heard back from federal officials.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Al Madany Islamic Center of Norwalk sued in June after the Zoning Commission rejected the $3.5 million project. On Nov. 29, the Zoning Commission voted to approve the mosque, subject to an agreement on the terms and conditions of a final settlement.

‘‘We are absolutely glad to see this,’’ said Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. ‘‘We’re going to let the process play itself out and hopefully we’ll celebrate at the end as a whole community in Norwalk.’’

While Muslims comprise about 1 percent of the American population, 14 percent of the religious land use investigations by the Justice Department’s civil rights division in the past decade involved mosques or Muslim schools, according to a report last year.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the division has opened 28 matters involving construction of Muslim religious institutions.

‘‘Of those, 18 have been opened since May 2010, suggesting that anti-Muslim bias in zoning is on the rise,’’ the report stated.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, blamed the spike in cases on controversy stemming from a proposed mosque near the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York. He said an opponent of that project wrote a manual on how to stop mosques

Private Muslim Schools to be Opened in Oslo

November 12, 2010

Norwegian media reports about plans to open three private Muslim schools in Oslo. All three schools will have a stronger focus on Islam, and on Arabic or Turkish rather than German or French as optional third languages to learn. Other to that they will follow national curricula.
One of the schools, Fredsskolen (the Peace School) has already been approved and might open next fall. The to others have not had their applications tested yet.

More details about new Islamic Schools in France

Le Monde reports that a greater number of Muslim parents are seeking to educate their children in confessional schools. Three Muslim schools have been announced, one in Montigny-le-Bretonneux (with 29 students), another in Marseille (with approximately 40 students) and a third in Toulouse (with 30 students registered).

Islamic Schooling Foundation Will Not Be Prosecuted For Misuse of Subsidies

The public prosecution will not deal with a complaint by State Secretary of Education Sharon Dijksma against the Helmond Foundation of Muslim Schools (Stichting Islamitische Scholen Helmond). Dijksma claims that the school administration wrongly spent over 900, 000 euro in subsidies. The claims came following Dijksma’s report to parliament last year which claimed that 90% of Muslim schools are misusing subsidy money. In the case of the Helmond Foundation, Dijksma claims that subsidy money has been used for self payment and compensating “phantom workers”. Prosecution recognized that the money was not spent as intended, but that it was not used for purposes of “grave self enrichment”, Trouw reports. The State Secretary says that she will respect the decision.

Independent faith school inspectorate plan ‘abandoned’

Plans to allow Muslim schools to conduct their own inspections have been scrapped by Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls MP. Although the proposals were designed to ensure that an independent watchdog would be more ‘sensitive’ about Islamic education, Ofsted has raised concerns that this would lead to ‘increased fragmentation’. Chief inspector of Ofsted Christine Gilbert said: ‘We believe it would be difficult for an organisation to form an objective view of the quality of schools inspected if it dealt with only one type of school and therefore lacked a broad perspective,’ reported The Daily Telegraph. The move would also have applied to Christian schools, following an application for the watchdog from the Association of Muslim Schools and the Christian Schools’ Trust. But Mr Balls has backed Ms Gilbert’s comments in a parliamentary statement, according to the paper.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=84CC16DF54F0D78C88ED665C&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

50% of teachers in Muslim schools are not Muslim

According to the newspaper Nederlands Dagblad with data from the Muslim school organization ISBO, at least half the teachers in Muslim elementary schools in the Netherlands are not Muslim. However, the number of Muslim teachers in Muslim schools are increasing; in 1996, just 25% of elementary teachers were Muslim, compared not to half – as more and more Muslims get a teacher’s education. According to principals of Muslim schools, most non-Muslim teachers have a Christian background. ISBO manager Yassin Hartog says that if no qualified Muslim teachers are available, people of the book are preferred, though they are asked to respect the Muslim religion.

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.

Dutch lawmaker calls for the closure of all Muslim schools

Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders, the controversial leader and founder of the Freedom Party (PVV), has called for the immediate closure of all Muslim schools in the Netherlands in an article published Tuesday. The move was necessary “to protect children against the ongoing spreading of Islam,” Wilders wrote on Dutch news websitem, Nieuwsnieuws. “We have too much Islam in the Netherlands. Islam is effectively more a violent political ideology than a religion,” he wrote. During the 2006 elections, Wilders’ PVV surprised everyone by gaining nine seats in the 175-seat Dutch parliament. Wilders had been an MP for several years – first for the Liberal-right VVD party and then as an independent member. Last year was the first time he contested the elections with his own party. Yassin Hartog, interim director of the ISBO, the umbrella organization of Muslim schools in the Netherlands, considers Wilders’ words to be a “provocation.” “I don’t think there is much reason for another controversy about Muslim schools in Holland. Muslim education in Holland is well-rooted in the national school system,” Hartog said. Holland is known for its uniquely broad range of schools and educational systems. Public schools are fully funded by the government, and special schools receive substantial government funding. Some 40 per cent of Dutch schools are public. The remaining 60 percent are special schools, some of which are based on specific educational systems such as Montessori, while others are based upon a religious denomination. In the last 15 years a few dozen Muslim schools have been established, predominantly elementary schools. In recent months, however, several Muslim schools made the Dutch headlines after school inspections found they did not meet the minimum educational standards, especially for the Dutch language and integration into Dutch society.