Having just watched tonight’s Panorama, I feel compelled to write. If you missed it, it was called ‘British school Islamic Rules’. In a nutshell it showed how some Muslim schools are affiliated with Muslim organisations and speakers that endorse slightly extreme values. Also the program highlighted how there are hundreds of after school and weekend classes that take place which teach the Saudi curriculum.

First of all let me ask this question-what was the purpose of this program, other than sensationalism? In this climate of terrorism, Islamaphobia, heightened sensitivities, why produce such a program? The narrator mentioned in the beginning that there were many open faith schools which invited people to come and find out about their school and there were many others that were the opposite. He mentioned that there were many Jewish and Christian schools he found on the internet that were insular and closed their doors to outsiders. In particular there were Christian schools which were very hostile towards Islam. However the Muslim schools caught his eye. Why? Why are Muslims always sidelined? When is there going to be a Panorama about the other faith schools that he found to be so insular and ‘in their own world’ as he described?

One of the main points of the program was to highlight how Muslim schools may be discouraging integration between muslims and non-muslims. This could be the case, however according to the Ofsted and BSI reports of all the Muslim schools shown, they were all shown to strongly promote tolerance and understanding towards all other religions. I believe that teaching tolerance and integration is most definitely the way forward to eradicate some if the islamic radicalism we’ve seen in this country recently and any schools that are guilty of anything but, need to be investigated. However this did not seem to be the case as none of the governing bodies reported this.

I don’t agree that Muslim speakers who discourage integration should be talking to school children. Anything to do with ‘non-believers’ or the ‘kuffar’ should not be taught in any school. Living in this country amongst all different races and cultures, the subject of believer and non-believers should not be the main focus of an Islamic education. THAT is what is slightly disturbing about some speakers that this program highlighted.
The other perplexing find was the content of the Saudi curriculum. The textbooks that are published under the Saudi government have a lot to answer for. I cringed when I saw what some of them said. One of the textbooks for 13 year olds, likened Jews to monkeys and pigs. Now this is completely inappropriate for a student living in Britain. There is no need for it, there is no advantage of being taught this. And yes it is anti-Semitic. The narrator was correct to be concerned about some aspects of the Saudi curriculum and this definitely needs to be addressed-this should not be taught here. What the Saudi government teaches it’s own nationals is their business but what they teach abroad is a different thing all together.

The one thing that did make me cross though was that in one Saudi textbook it said ‘Zionists want to take over the world’ or something of that nature, to which the response of the MP who was being questioned about faith schools said ‘we will not tolerate anti-semitism’. How is that anti-semitism!?!? It’s not insulting the Jewish faith or Jews. It’s about ZIONISM, a completely different ideology to the Jewish faith. Even though the difference between the two has been blurred out by zionists, slowly infiltrating the view throughout the world that a criticism of zionism is a criticism of Judaism which is anti-Semitic. No anti-Semitism should not be taught in any school, but that was not anti-Semitism.

I’m all for casting out extremists at the grass roots in the quest to tackle radicalism, but when it comes to faith schools I would like schools of all faiths to be scrutinised in the same way. There are extremists bred from all religions, not just Islam.