"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"

Greta Christina

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

It was only a matter of time

Ever since Michael Gove announced the establishment and expansion of the Free School system in the U.K, along with many others, I have been pointing out that they are a perfect vehicle for religious ideologues to advance their agendas to the detriment of young children. Attempts have been made by Christians to establish a creationist school for example and over 30% of applications to open free schools are faith based in some respect.
Consequently I should be happy about the welcome news that an Islamic free school in Derby has been shut down following investigation by OFSTED due to a series of complaints.
…unnamed former staff members of Al-Madinah, which opened as a free school in September last year, had alleged that girls were forced to sit at the back of the classroom. Unnamed female staff members have also claimed they were forced to conform to a strict dress code including wearing a head scarf or hijab - whether or not they were Muslim.
There are also reports that during Ramadan lessons were cancelled to make time for prayer and that Arabic and Islamic studies were taught at the expense of the national curriculum
One anonymous staff member told the paper: "They have three prayers every day, an hour of Koranic studies and an hour of Islamic studies as well as Arabic. They are not following the national curriculum, there isn't enough time."
Well, yes I’m happy the school has been closed and this abominable excuse for an education exposed, but it should never have got this far in the first place. In what La-La world of cultural relativism do Gove and the DoE live if they didn’t see this coming at the application stage? There was never a chance that such a school would be capable of abandoning Islam’s innate misogyny and treating its female pupils with equality and respect and I dread to think what these poor kids were being taught in science class… if anything.
If this misguided free school project really must continue there needs to be a prohibition against any faith based groups being involved as they cannot be trusted to teach objectively to national standards and the state has no business funding the propagation of superstition and intolerance. If Muslims want to give their children instruction in Islam, that’s fine, but not at the tax payer’s expense: they can do it at home or pay for them to attend after school madrassas. What this country owes all its children of whatever cultural descent is access to a broad secular education in an atmosphere of equality and free enquiry not confinement to narrow and divisive ideologies during their most formative years.

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