Sharia lessons for pupils, six: Minister’s concern after BBC investigates 40 ‘weekend schools’
Children in Britain are being taught brutal Sharia law punishments, including howÂ to hack off a criminal’s hand or foot. So-called ‘weekend schools’ for Muslim pupils as young as six also teach that the penalty for gay sex is execution and that ‘Zionists’ are plotting to take over the world for the Jews.
One set textbook challenges youngsters to list the ‘reprehensible’ qualities of Jews.
Another for six-year-olds asks them to answer what happens to someone who dies who is not a believer in Islam. The answer being looked for is ‘hellfire’.
A BBC Panorama investigation, to be screened tonight, identified a network of more than 40 weekend schools teaching around 5,000 children, from age six to 18.
The schools â€“ which offer the hardline Saudi National Curriculum â€“ are run under the umbrella of ‘Saudi Students Clubs and Schools in the UK and Ireland’.
They are not state-funded, and do not use Government buildings. They are able to exploit a loophole which means weekend schools are not inspected by Ofsted.
Last night, experts at the Policy Exchange think-tank warned that similar extremists could seek to exploit the Government’s policy of giving greater freedoms from state control to free schools and academies.
They call for the establishment of a due diligence unit to check whether those applying to open the schools have an extremist background.
Current checks are largely limited to fraud, criminal convictions and funding.
Education Secretary Michael Gove, who is believed to be supportive of the idea, said he would not tolerate anti-Semitism and homophobia in English schools.
The Panorama investigation identified a book for 15-year-olds being used in the classes which teaches about Sharia law and its punishments.
It says: ‘For thieves their hands will be cut off for a first offence, and their foot for a subsequent offence.’
There are diagrams showing children where cuts must be made. One passage says: ‘The specified punishment of the thief is cutting off his right hand at the wrist. Then it is cauterised to prevent him from bleeding to death.’
For acts of ‘sodomy’, children are told that the penalty is death and it states a difference of opinion whether this should be done by stoning, or burning with fire, or throwing over a cliff.
Panorama alleges that a building used for one of the schools, in Ealing, West London, is owned by the Saudi government .
Mr Gove told the programme: ‘I have no desire or wish to intervene in the decisions that the Saudi government makes in its own education system.
‘But I’m clear that we cannot have anti-Semitic material of any kind being used in English schools. Ofsted are doing some work in this area.
‘They’ll be reporting to me shortly about how we can ensure that part-time provision is better registered and better inspected in the future.’
The text books for 15-year-olds revive the so-called ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, which teach that Zionists want to establish world domination for Jews.
The Saudi text books instruct pupils: ‘The Jews have tried to deny them (the Protocols) but there are many proofs of their veracity and their origin among the elders of Zion.’
The text books say the ‘main goal’ of the ‘Zionist movement’ is ‘for the Jews to have control over the world and its resources’ which, the book allege, Zionists seek to achieve partly by ‘inciting rancour and rivalry among the great powers so that they fight one another.’
Mr Gove said anyone who cites the Protocols of Zion is ‘indulging in one of the oldest and foulest anti Semitic smears that, that we know of’.
In a written response to the findings, the Saudi ambassador said the schools had nothing to do with the Saudi embassy.
It stated: ‘Any tutoring activities that may have taken place among any other group of Muslims in the United Kingdom are absolutely individual to that group and not affiliated to or endorsed by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia.’
Referring to the lesson that tasks children to list the ‘reprehensible qualities of the Jews’, in a letter to the BBC, the Saudi ambassador said it was ‘dangerously deceptive and misleading to address such texts and discuss them out of their overall historical, cultural and linguistic contexts’.
Panorama separately claimed some Muslim private schools have expressed extreme sentiments on their school websites.
These include: ‘We need to defend our children from the forces of evil’, and ‘our children are exposed to a culture that is in opposition to almost everything Islam stands for’.
Policy Exchange says Britain’s faith and other schools are increasingly vulnerable to extremist influences.
It claims in a report that the Department for Education, Ofsted, education authorities and schools are ‘not equipped’ to meet such challenges.
Current checks for extremism are described as ‘piecemeal’.
The report adds: ‘The Government’s policy of opening up the education system to new academies and free schools programmes could be exploited unless urgent measures are taken to counter extremist influence.’