Not surprisingly, there is much talk on the web this week about the recent Panorama programme featuring British Schools teaching British Muslims the Saudi national curriculum. Of particular focus is the fact that these imported text books teach young children that homophobia and anti-Semitism is okay. Some commentators have put it far more strongly than that.
This sort of bigotry is deeply concerning and children should not be taught it. It encourages segregation and isolation of people groups, which is harmful to everyone. This wasn’t the only thing that bothered me though; the text books features were not in English, which is absurd, schools in this country should teach in the national language, English, and from text books published to this country’s national curriculum. Importing foreign language books that teach to another national curriculum puts those children at a disadvantage in this country. That’s before you get onto the subject of the racist and bigoted matter therein.
Not surprisingly, and even understandably, there are many comments from Muslims saying that this is a twisted reporting of Islam and that not all Islam is like that and the British press are on a witch-hunt against Islam. The question I would like to ask those people is “why are you not joining the people who are rightly criticising those extreme views featured?”.
If Muslims are concerned that there is not anything good about Islam in the British press or on the TV then they should make an effort and change that themselves. Go public in criticising the bigotry of the Saudi curriculum that is being taught in British schools, go public in supporting those who want rid of the absurd system that has allowed this to happen. When the British public see Mulims joining them in fighting prejudice and bigotry then they will see Islam being positive. If all that the British public see is Muslims complaining when some parts of Islam are justifiably focused on as wrong then of course it will reinforce any negative views that are already held.
Of most concern for me in the programme was the fact that the schools are not Ofsted inspected, but instead are inspected by a separate organisation, the Bridge Schools Inspectorate, which inspects faith schools. Faith schools should adhere to this country’s national curriculum first and foremost and the teaching of faith should come secondary to that, minus the homophobia, anti-Semitism and any other bigotry. Self imposed seclusion will only damage religious credibility even further.