“Four Scottish schools have been targeted by Islamic campaigners who are calling for them to be converted into the country’s first dedicated Muslim primaries.” (This from The Scotsman, with thanks to Alyssa Lappen.)
“The schools in Glasgow, including one which is currently Roman Catholic, are at the centre of the controversial move by Scotland’s Muslim community to satisfy increasing worries about the negative influence secular education is having on their children.
“While ministers and politicians will not want to be seen to oppose the campaign, they will regard it as a major political headache as any public opposition would also put the issue of separate Catholic schooling under the spotlight.
“The largest of the four schools – all of which have 90% Muslim pupils at the moment – is the Roman Catholic St Albert’s School in Pollokshields, which has 360 children. The others are Pollokshields Primary, with 350 children, Annette Street Primary in Govanhill, with 200 pupils, and Willowbank Primary in the Woodlands area of Glasgow’s West End.
“The campaign comes in the wake of ministers south of the Border funding Islamic schools, and East Renfrewshire Council – which also runs a Jewish primary – saying it would be prepared to consider any request for a Muslim school. . . .
“Osama Said, the Scottish spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain and the organiser of the campaign, said: ‘As parents, we are becoming increasingly worried about the influence of secular schooling on our children. We are worried the boys may be buying into the gang culture, and feel cut off from their heritage. If other faiths have the right to separate schools funded by the state, then it should not be denied to us.'” . . .
“A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church last night backed the Muslim campaign, and said the Church would have no problem allowing one of their schools to be changed from Catholic to Muslim.
“He said: ‘We are in favour of Muslim schools, we support faith schools across the board. In the case of St Albert’s, we see a school in which for 95% of the children the festival of Eid has more significance than Christmas or Easter. It is de facto not a Catholic school.'”
However, others voiced fears that “racists” would capitalize on such a change: “Fred Forrester, the former general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland – Scotland’s largest teaching union – was horrified. He said: ‘Can you imagine how racists would exploit this? The BNP would be able to move into the area and tell people, “Look over there, they took your school away from you”. It would be explosive, a gift for racists.'”
It may not just be racists who would have reason to be concerned. For example, “last May, Scotland’s first Muslim school, in the south side of Glasgow, was closed after a damning report by inspectors. Iqra Academy, a private Islamic school, was criticised amid allegations of bullying, lack of staff training and the use of corporal punishment. The local Imam who ran the school was also criticised by parents for running it along hard-line religious principles.”
Hard-line religious principles? This is interesting in light of another statement from Turkey today: “‘Because families in Bingol bring up their children from a young age according to Islamic principles, once they reach a certain age they join Islamic groups and they take part in acts of terror,’ said Mehmet Polat, an unemployed man in Bingol.” (Thanks to aaron.)
It is hardly racist to be concerned that Islamic schools in Scotland may have the same result, and to try to ensure that they won’t.