Muslim leaders reject plans to register ‘out of school education settings’

Date published: 07 January 2016

Over 400 mosques, madrassas, teachers, Imams and organisations nationwide unequivocally reject Government proposals to register mosques/madrassas under the guise of registering 'out-of-school education settings'.

Since David Cameron first announced his intentions to register Madrassas at the Conservative Party Conference on 7 October, a united coalition of Mosques and Muslim organisations have been promoting the 'Keep Mosques Independent' campaign to present a strong rejection of Government plans.

As part of this campaign the Northern Council of Mosques which includes Bradford Council of Mosques, Manchester Council of Mosques, Lancashire Council of Mosques, Bolton Council of Mosques, Stockport Mosques and Rochdale Council of Mosques (representing over 400 mosques and almost half a million Muslims) has issued a response to the Government's consultation which ends on the 11 January. This response has also been signed by a number of other mosques and council of mosques from around the country.

The response states: “Government sanctioned religious education will lead to alienated faith communities and unduly encroaches on the legitimate right of faith providers to teach their children their faith.

“We believe the definition of 'extremism’', which lies at the heart of the regulation of religious education in out-of-school settings, is open to abuse due to its vague definition. The term ‘extremism’ is potentially all encompassing, vague and lacks any legal certainty. We note the term ‘extremism’ is a much contested concept even within Parliamentary reports, which offered conflicting findings often sensationalised by the media and overstated by some officials over whether ‘extremist’ practices were in fact found in Birmingham schools. ‘Extremism’ was also a term the Home Secretary, Theresa May, was unable to define when questioned on Radio 4 'Today’s Programme' [13 May 2015]."

On the issue of 'Prevent', which is also part of the proposals to monitor out-of-school settings, the statement criticises it for “adversely affecting children’s development”.

The statement reads: “There is growing evidence in other educational settings that the application of ‘S.21 Prevent Duty’ within nurseries, schools, colleges and universities has been misapplied due to the vague nature of terms like extremism and the flawed theory of radicalisation. For example, there are reports of children who have been referred to Prevent Boards for wanting to pray in school or being critical of the media or foreign policy or officials saying that a change in dress, not shopping at a particular store and not participating in another faith’s celebrations are signs of ‘extremism’. 

“Children need safe space to discuss their views on current events and properly directed by true religious teachings without fear of being referred to a Prevent Board.

"This would be difficult to achieve within the context of the vague definitions of ‘extremism’ and the risk-averse culture which seems to develop in other educational settings.

"Faith providers may simply avoid such open conversations with children for fear of being labelled extremists themselves.”

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