Thursday, 12 March 2009

Reply to Iftikhar Ahmad of the London School of Islamics

I received a rather bizarre and long comment from Iftikhar Ahmad from London School of Islamics in response to my Is Ofsted up to the job? It as bizarre for various reasons but it warrants a reply which I am doing here rather than in another comment.

Hi Iftikhar Ahmad

You did not address the point of my post which was that Ed Balls responded to criticism of Ofsted failing properly evaluate the British ethos of independent Muslim schools by getting Ofsted to evaluate the British ethos of independent Muslim schools! Do you have any point to make regarding that?

You comment seems to be a defence of Muslim schools in particular and I have no issue with Muslims schools per se but over faith schools of any denomination. I want to see good schools not god schools which would the benefit of everyone in our country and that means getting rid of double standards including archaic and antiquated ideas like faith schools.
The demand for Muslim schools comes from parents who want their children a safe environment with an Islamic ethos
Since you have introduced "ethos" into this I can only add that providing that does not trump a British ethos that is fine.
Parents see Muslim schools where children can develop their Islamic Identity where they won't feel stigmatised for being Muslims and they can feel confident about their faith.
You live in a country with freedom of and from religion and conscience. No-one should be stigmatised for their faith or lack of faith. The question is whether faith schools can help or hinder such freedoms and there is much data and argument that faith schools do not help such freedoms.

Further I am concerned over the idea of an "Islamic identity" does not trump such a British identity which incorporates such freedoms and tolerances and regards religion as only part of identity and not more significant (i.e. special) than any other factor.
Muslim schools are working to try to create a bridge between communities.
Surely the best way to do that is to stop thinking encouraging the creation and separation of communities by cultural relativistic religions, so this is an argument not have religious schools.
There is a belief among ethnic minority parents that the British schooling does not adequatly address their cultural needs.
I think you will find this a pretty universal belief amongst parents and citizens in general for anyone's "cultural" needs. It is not be the job of state schools to address such cultural needs whether based on religion or otherwise. That is the job of those within that culture not the state which should remain neutral on such issues and not biased one way or another.
Failing to meet this need could result in feeling resentment among a group who already feel excluded.
Many people from all walks of life can feel excluded in this country and elsewhere too. Many groups feel resentment over aspects of this country and feel the same in other countries too. Now you have to ask why the group that you, by implication, claim to represent feel specially excluded? We live in a pluralistic society wanting to celebrate cultural diversity and ideally to include everyone yet your argument far from being inclusive seem to be encouraging the exclusion that you are complaining about. For example:
Setting up Muslim school is a defensive response.
A defence against what? Being included?
State schools with monolingual teachers are not capable to teach English to bilingual Muslim children.
The issue is over any immigrant where English is not their first language. This should be based on language and is nothing to do with religion.
Bilingual teachers are needed to teach English to such children along with their mother tongue. According to a number of studies, a child will not learn a second language if his first language is ignored.
Regardless this is nothing to do with religion and religious schools.
Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods.
Again the issue of language does not require that it must be taught by a person of a specific religion, you want to encourage discrimination against the British ethos and there is no justification for it in a state school. When it comes to role models one needs good people as role models period. There is no guarantee that because someone is of one religion they would be a good role model and this is neither a necessary nor sufficient criteria for a good role model in our society.
Muslims have the right to educate their children in an environment that suits their
All British citizens have the desire and expectation that state school will educate their children in an environment that suits our culture, the culture of the country of which we are citizens. There is no such right for any group - religious , political or other for state school to cater to cultures that conflict with this.
This notion of "integration", actually means "assimilation", by which people generally really mean "be more like me". That is not multiculturalism.
We live in a culturally plural society but these should not conflict with a nations identity and values. If they do, then it is that cultures job to integrate.
In Sydney, Muslims were refused to build a Muslim school, because of a protest by the residents. Yet a year later, permission was given for the building of a Catholic school and no protests from the residents. This clrearly shows the blatant hypocrisy, double standards and racism.
This is way beyond the topic of the post but as you know I campaign against hypocricy anddouble standards and, if this is true, is certainly a double standard to condemn. However I am focused on double standards in this country and one of my interests is over education. The original post was over concerns by Civitas - yet to be confirmed - of racism, prejudice and bigot being encouraged in certain private Musim schools. Given your concerns just noted surely you would support the identification and elimination of racism in Muslim (as well as other faith) schools would'nt you?
Christians oppose Muslim schools in western countries yet build their own religious schools.
Maybe in other countries, this does not seem to eb the case in this country. Anyway this is one reason I campaign against faith schools. The solution is stop building any of them and have a single standard for everyone.
British schooling and the British society is the home of institutional racism. The result is that Muslim children are unable to develop self-confidence and self-esteem, therefore, majority of them leave schools with low grades. Racism is deeply rooted in British society. Every native child is born with a gene or virus of racism, therefore, no law could change the attitudes of racism towards those who are different.
This is a highly prejudiced and bigoted claim by you. For sure most everyone can have compaints about racism, classism and other isms. By implication you are also saying that all Muslim children are also racist (they must have this gene too) and want to enourage this virus of racism by creating more Muslim schools! The racism in this country is far less than it used to be and if you are interested in inoculating our children against this virus and so reducing this further you would be seeking better means of integration into and not seperation from our shared society.
There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools with bilingual Muslim teachers. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.
All across our country there are different local cultural mixes based not only on religion, but country of origin, socio-economic status and so on. And our local schools reflect this. Give me one good reason to single out religion and Muslims in particular for special designation? I thought you were against double standards so what is your justification for creating one here?

Then you add the truly outrageuous final line that I have emphasized. I struggle with a charitable interpretation that it is not conneced with the rest of this paragraph. This leaves the implication that you want state schools with a majority of Muslim to become Muslim schools and the reject any non-muslims!!

It seems that you do support double standards hypocricy,prejudice, bigotry and racoism when it is in your favour. I note that you represent the London School of Islamics and am now wondering there that was targeted by the Civita report? I will check that report and your site whilst I am awaiting your reply to my reponse.


Anonymous said...

The original post is a near perfect argument against faith schools. The poster wants the freedom to privately indoctrinate children into his own primitive belief system while predictably reveling in a self-imposed victimhood. The absurd suggestion that British society is genetically racist is as offensive as it is ridiculous, not least because islam is not a race, but an ideology.
"There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school."

... and there is no place for this kind of discriminatory, separatist thinking in a civilised, enlightened society.

IftikharA said...

I have been campaigning for state funded Muslim schools for the last 45 years. I set up the first Muslim school in 1981 and now there are round about 188 Muslim schools and out of them only 18 are state funded.

There are hundreds of state and church schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be opted out as Muslim Academies. Bilingual Muslims children have a right, as much as any other faith group, to be taught their culture, languages and faith alongside a mainstream curriculum. More faith schools will be opened under sweeping reforms of the education system in England. There is a dire need for the growth of state funded Muslim schools to meet the growing needs and demands of the Muslim parents and children. Now the time has come that parents and community should take over the running of their local schools. Parent-run schools will give the diversity, the choice and the competition that the wealthy have in the private sector. Parents can perform a better job than the Local Authority because parents have a genuine vested interest. The Local Authority simply cannot be trusted. This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam’s teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children like discipline, structure and boundaries. Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand their needs and demands.

None of the British Muslims convicted following the riots in Bradford and Oldham in 2001 or any of those linked to the London bombings had been to Islamic schools. An American Think Tank studied the educational back ground of 300 Jihadists; none of them were educated in Pakistani Madrasas. They were all Western educated by non-Muslim teachers. Bilingual Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role models. A Cambridge University study found that single-sex classes could make a big difference for boys. They perform better in single-sex classes. The research is promising because male students in the study saw noticeable gains in the grades. The study confirms the Islamic notion that academic achievement is better in single-sex classes.