* Resistance or just a temporary setback?
* Islamic indoctrination session
Moves to allow Muslim clerics into classrooms to address pupils were condemned yesterday. The latest scheme put forward by Schools Secretary Ed Balls was greeted with derision.
Critics branded the proposals by the under-fire minister unworkable and unnecessary.
The package of measures, to be published next week, will set out a proposal to invite British-born imams into schools to speak about growing violent extremism among young people.
Under the plans, the imams would teach citizenship so that pupils learn about the Koran and Islam in the context of a multicultural society. But last night the scheme was described as yet another worthless Government gimmick.
* The last people on the planet who should be allowed to talk aboutÂ citizenship are the Islamic clerics. For a Muslim, his loyalty lies with the ummah, the nation of believers, never with the infidel nation state, which he is obliged to destroy.
* Yet another idiotic, naive socialist BS-idea…
Opponents said the plans would simply provide another opportunity to deliver “faith-based citizenship lessons” on Islam.
They also pointed out it was unnecessary as schools already cover such key faith issues in religious education classes.
Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: “This is just another Government gimmick. Children should be taught different faiths, but that should be the responsibility of religious education teachers.
“What we’re seeing here is a case of schools coming up with daft stunts instead of concentrating on teaching the three Rs.” Mark Wallace, of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “This is a question of priorities. While increased religious understanding is good in itself, at a time when schools are failing to teach children to read and write it is clearly not the first place to spend the money.”
Teachers’ groups also voiced their concern. Martin Ward, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Schools, by and large, are already doing these things.
“Every school teaches pupils to be tolerant and know the tenets of different faiths. That’s exactly what religious education is supposed to be.
“The real causes of people getting into extremism are nothing to do with schools.”
Imam Haroon Rashid Patel, whose work includes visiting Valentines High School in Ilford, Essex, where 40 per cent of the pupils have Muslim backgrounds, also condemned the proposals. “I don’t think this has been thought through,” he said. “To avoid extremism, you need to do much more than sending imams into schools. Families need to be involved as well.”
The National Union of Teachers caused an outcry in March by suggesting that Muslim clerics and other religious leaders should be sent into every school as an alternative to having specific faith schools.
Head teachers and other critics warned that this could allow extremists to target pupils. Now the proposals by Mr Balls appear to take the move a step further.
Government officials said the imams could take part in lessons which include “discussing rights of neighbours, the sacredness of life or the importance of equal opportunities.” They said teachers and clerics would be urged to help counter the threat of terrorism by winning the “hearts and minds” of youngsters.
The plans form part of new guidance to encourage local authorities and police to work more closely with schools.
The officials said that imams and other adults granted access to pupils will be vetted for radical Islamist views to undermine efforts to spread extremist doctrine. But there is no guarantee that extremist imams will not slip through the net. The proposals come in the wake of last week’s Exeter restaurant bombing, which police suspect was carried out by a British-educated convert to Islam.
On July 7 2005, London was attacked by home-grown terrorists, including a classroom assistant, who had been radicalised by extremist teachers in this country.
Mr Balls said a “tiny minority do seek to radicalise young people with an ideology advocating division, hatred and violence, and justifies criminal activity.”
This, he said, was one of the “complex issues” that teachers have to deal with and is “perhaps one of the most difficult”.
He added: “Unfortunately, we have to recognise that a very small number of children may already be at risk of being drawn into criminal activity inspired by extremists.
“This is not to suggest that radicalisation is taking place in our schools. However, we must ensure schools are equipped to face this challenge.”
This is just another Government gimmick
Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education