Monday 8 September 2008

Belgium: How Islam Corrupts the Schools

The Le Vif/L'Express article also mentions two "sensitive" subjects which, among quite a few others, are difficult to raise with Muslim pupils: the Israeli-Arab conflict and the Holocaust. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

"Belgian French language magazine Le Vif/L'Express had come out with a five page spread in its August 29th issue about Islam in the Belgian school system.

The headline on the cover - "How Islam Threatens the School" - and the article's title - "How Islam Corrupts [gangrenes] the School" - have already drawn criticisms.
Sadly, the article itself is not available freely online, though I understand it doesn't really bring any new data. Most schools in Brussels ban the veil, but there are other Muslim requirements from the school system - offering halal food or banning pork, enabling girls to drop gym and swimming classes and not to attend school outings, enabling students to fast at Ramadan, and giving students a place to pray at school.
The article claims that teachers and principles feel they can't handle the situation. Not only in the case of science and creationism, teachers feel they're being forced to adapt the curriculum in other subjects such as geography and history so as not to offend students.
Part of the criticism is that besides noting that 30% of schoolgirls in Brussels are Muslims, the article does not give factual data on how many such cases of demands there are from Muslim students and parents.

I received a response from Karim Chemlal, head of the League of Muslims in Belgium, who accuses the exposé of being shallow and not going into the real debate. He points to a study that says Islam is sometimes used as an excuse by students whose true motive is to provoke the system."

1 comment:

Iftikhar Ahmad said...

Muslim youths are angry, frustrated and extremist because they have been mis-educated and de-educated by the British schooling. Muslim children are confused because they are being educated in a wrong place at a wrong time in state schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers. They face lots of problems of growing up in two distinctive cultural traditions and value systems, which may come into conflict over issues such as the role of women in the society, and adherence to religious and cultural traditions. The conflicting demands made by home and schools on behaviour, loyalties and obligations can be a source of psychological conflict and tension in Muslim youngsters. There are also the issues of racial prejudice and discrimination to deal with, in education and employment. They have been victim of racism and bullying in all walks of life. According to DCSF, 56% of Pakistanis and 54% of Bangladeshi children has been victims of bullies. The first wave of Muslim migrants were happy to send their children to state schools, thinking their children would get a much better education. Than little by little, the overt and covert discrimination in the system turned them off. There are fifteen areas where Muslim parents find themselves offended by state schools.

The right to education in one’s own comfort zone is a fundamental and inalienable human right that should be available to all people irrespective of their ethnicity or religious background. Schools do not belong to state, they belong to parents. It is the parents’ choice to have faith schools for their children. Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim teacher or a child in a Muslim school. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools. An ICM Poll of British Muslims showed that nearly half wanted their children to attend Muslim schools. There are only 143 Muslim schools. A state funded Muslim school in Birmingham has 220 pupils and more than 1000 applicants chasing just 60.

Majority of anti-Muslim stories are not about terrorism but about Muslim culture--the hijab, Muslim schools, family life and religiosity. Muslims in the west ought to be recognised as a western community, not as an alien culture.
Iftikhar Ahmad