Channel 4’s Dispatches has just broadcast a documentary on hard-line teaching in a Muslim school in the UK and violence in a madrassa attached to a mosque, using covert recording over a two-year period. The programme, entitled Lessons in Hate and Violence, can be seen in the UK here; it forms a follow-up to Dispatches‘ 2007 programme Undercover Mosque (blogged here), and complements a BBC Panorama programme on extremism in some British Muslim schools which went out in November (blogged here).
Much of the programme focused on Darul Uloon al-Islam, a full-time secondary school in Birmingham which has in the past been visited by MPs and various officials. Footage shows an older student leading an assembly as preaching practice, in which he explains that Hindus have no intellect because they “worship cows”, and that they “drink the piss of a cow”. Following the summer holidays, a teacher warns that pupils with “un-Islamic” hairstyles will be trimmed, and the students are told not to integrate: society is “Shaytan”, they should “hate” walking down English streets, and they should “put away” and “forget” non-Muslim friends. Guest speakers are brought in to explain that less rigorous Muslims, defined as having a “less than a fistful” of beard, are of more potential harm than associating with a Jew, and that punishment awaits:
You know when the Angel of Death comes and he rips their soul out. He will give them such a beating that this forked iron rod will enter his body and it will enter every single joint. And then the Angel of Death will twist it and he will twist it and he will twist it. You will feel the pain on that day.
Pupils are also told not to wear trousers that go below the ankles, as this “imitates women”: “that part of your feet will be in the fire of hell”. The programme’s presenter, Tazeen Ahmed, explained that in 2007 the school’s Deputy Headmaster had been recorded in Undercover Mosque giving an anti-integration talk, after which he had resigned since this was supposedly not in accordance with the school’s principles. The school’s response to the new footage has been to claim that the senior student who had denounced Hindus had been expelled, that certain teachers have been dismissed, and that outside speakers had said things that were not in accordance with the school’s ethos.
The programme also noted that despite the above, the school has been praised by inspectors, who had recorded that “pupils learn about the beliefs and practices of other faiths and are taught to show respect to other world religions”, and that the school was “promoting tolerance and harmony”. The inspectorate’s name appeared on-screen but was not discussed – this was the Bridge Schools Inspectorate, which also featured in the Panorama documentary. BSI deals with a small number of Muslim and Christian schools, and Barry Sheerman MP described it on Panorama as a “sub-system” which had “slipped through the system before anyone noticed what had happened”.
There’s also a brief related discussion of a school called Darululoom London; Ahmed noted a website which appeared to be associated with the school and which promotes segregationist teaching. However, the school insisted there was in fact no connection, and that a teacher named as overseeing the site is in the process of having his name removed.
Another portion of the programme dealt with the Markazi Jamia Mosque in Keighley, where there is a madrassa that appears to be overseen by a Islamic version of Wackford Squeers: the teacher is shown roaming about the room where children are learning the Koran, hitting and kicking cowering pupils more or less at random. At other times, older pupils are shown bullying the younger. The footage was shown to Sir Roger Singleton, author of a report entitled Physical Punishment: Improving Consistency and Protection; he had visited the madrassa as part of his research and he told Ahmed that the footage indicated that he had been misled. As is customary in these programmes, there was the obligatory door-stopping: Ahmed and her camera crew made their way to the mosque to get a response from mosque officials, who quickly shut the door on her. A local councillor, Khadim Hussain, then appeared and unfortunately appeared to suggest that the programme-makers were endangering the children. Since then, Ahmed explained, a man has been arrested and the police are investigating.
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