UK Politics

School Days

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Here is one

A Saudi-funded Islamic school in London has been accused of poisoning the minds of pupils as young as five years with a curriculum of hate.

Colin Cook, 57, claims text books used by children at the King Fahad Academy in Acton, west London, describe Jews as “repugnant” and Christians as “pigs”.

The father-of-three, a Muslim convert, allegedly heard some of them saying they wanted to “kill Americans”, praising 9/11 and idolising Osama bin Laden as a “hero”.

Mr Cook, who taught English for 18 years at the Academy, was sacked from his £35,000-a-year post in December for alleged misconduct relating to the exams procedure. He is claiming £100,000 compensation for unfair dismissal, race discrimination and victimisation.

In legal papers lodged with Watford Employment Tribunal, he claims the Academy used text books by the Saudi government’s Ministry of Education which taught religious hate.

“The schoolbooks presently in use describe Jews as ‘monkeys’ (or apes) and Christians as ‘pigs’,” he says in the documents. Students are asked to “mention some repugnant characteristics of Jews”, and Year 1 pupils are asked to “give examples of worthless religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, idol worship and others”, he adds.

He also alleges that when he complained to school chiefs about the content of the curriculum and questioned whether it complied with British laws, he was told: “This is not England. It is Saudi Arabia”.

Speaking today Mr Cook, of Feltham, south London, said the school had been “very good” until the majority of British teachers left in 2005, and claimed “there had been a move towards a pro-Saudi agenda”.

He added: “It is clearly very divisive. The vast majority of Muslims, including myself, are law-abiding, tolerant of others and peaceful.”

Mr Cook claims he was sacked after blowing the whistle on pupils cheating to examining board Edexcel in August 2006. The school denies his allegations and says he was rightly dismissed.

The Academy declined to comment today. But its new female principal, Dr Sumaya Alyusuf, told the Daily Telegraph last month that it had dropped the Saudi curriculum following complaints from parents it failed to prepare children for life in the UK.

The move followed an investigation in 2004 which found that the Academy was teaching British children “fundamentalist” Islam and allegedly giving girl pupils an inferior education.

Here is another

A Muslim group has offered to help fund a school’s legal battle over its refusal to let a pupil wear the niqab in class.

In an unprecedented move, the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford (Meco) has written to the head teacher to say it is prepared to contribute to a fighting fund.

Taj Hargey, Meco’s chairman, said he was also willing to organise a campaign among Muslims nationally to resist “this largely Saudi-driven campaign to make the niqab a compulsory requirement for Muslim women”.

Dr Hargey’s offer comes as the school, which cannot be identified because of a court order, faces the prospect of an expensive legal fight without any backing.

Buckinghamshire county council, the local authority for the school, is unwilling to underwrite a challenge which it believes could cost as much as £500,000.

The case is complicated because the girl’s sisters were allowed to wear the niqab when a different head was in charge. A new policy has been introduced which the father is challenging. The girl has not been excluded, but has been out of school since early October.

In his letter to the school, Dr Hargey said the father’s insistence on his daughter wearing the niqab was a “non-Islamic imposition upon your institution”.

He added: “We are strongly committed to offering you our full and unequivocal support in banning face-masks at school. We trust that you will continue to resist any move to implement this kind of minority ethnic obsession, which has no foundation whatsoever in the transcendent sources of Islamic law.”

Dr Hargey said that since the school’s dress code already allowed the option for Muslim girls to wear the hijab, there was no need for full-face covering.

Dr Hargey was on the Today programme this morning, at about 6.30 am. He regards the niqab as gender “apartheid”.

He appeared on the Channel 4 “Undercover Mosque” Dispatches programme, and on the Panorama programme on the Muslim Council of Britain.

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