From The Telegraph, and IR1948:
A London school funded by the Saudi Arabian government is facing complaints from parents that it is teaching British children “fundamentalist” Islam while giving girls an inferior education.
The King Fahd Academy in Acton, west London, named after the current Saudi ruler, devotes up to 50 per cent of lessons to religious education and teaches almost all classes in Arabic, with boys and girls following different curricula.
Former teachers and parents have come forward to criticise the academy’s religious teachings for instilling “hostility to the outsider”. They also claim that there is discrimination against female pupils. The school was opened 19 years ago for the offspring of Saudi diplomats in London. Since then, many children of British Muslims have joined the school. In 2002, only 37 per cent of the 738 pupils were of Saudi origin.
Among those who currently attend the academy are the children of Abu Hamza, the cleric from Finsbury Park mosque who was arrested last week after the United States applied for his extradition on terrorism charges.
Originally the British and the Saudi curricula were taught side by side. Five years ago, however, the Saudi Arabian government ordered the school to phase out British lessons and to teach Saudi-style classes.
The school is segregated and younger boys and girls are now taught different courses, to comply with Saudi education policy, which states that a girl’s education should “enable her to be a successful housewife, an exemplary wife and a good mother” or prepare her for work which is “suitable to her disposition as a woman”.
Girls at the academy do barely any physical education and the only type of technology they will learn is “home technology”.
Dr Mai Yamani, a research fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, had two daughters at the school, but removed them when she became uncomfortable about the education they were receiving. “I moved my eldest daughter at the age of seven. Her new school said that, in their opinion, she had been ‘totally untaught’ to that point. They had to put her in a class with much younger children, which was terrible for her.
“The books they taught the girls from kept going on about idolatry and sin and how to avoid it. It was about the fires of hell, torture in the grave and how to make sure that your ways are not those of the infidel.
“The school is trying to make sure that the Saudis who go there abide by the system of state control in Saudi Arabia. The method is ‘loyalty to the system and hostility to the outsider’.
“Three years ago I interviewed some of the pupils for a book and some of them were talking as if they didn’t live in London at all.”
Dr Yamani, the daughter of the former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Yamani,
…an apt a name as there ever was for an oil minister…
believes that girls at the school are given an inferior education to that provided to boys and that they are taught to “know their place”.
She added: “They consider that the mind of a girl is less capable of absorbing education.” Another parent who has two teenage girls at the school is unhappy with the direction the academy is taking.
“It used to be a wonderful school that taught the two traditions side by side. Now only one lesson in six is taken in English. The children would not have the standard to even read the paper by the time they reach A-level,” he said.
“It has arrived at a situation where the school seems to be saying: ‘This is the only correct version of Islam’. It’s such a fundamentalist approach.” …
Pupils in Saudi Arabia are obliged to spend half of the school timetable studying a rigid interpretation of Islam. A recent review of the curriculum by the Saudi government concluded that almost a fifth of lesson plans contained tracts preaching anti-Western and anti-Semitic views. The Saudi education department is now considering a redraft of the whole curriculum.