Public money going to Hizb ut-Tahrir schools?


by Rumbold
25th October, 2009 at 10:40 pm    

Activists in Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT) were given taxpayers’ money for a handful of schools that have HuT members as trustees and which are run along HuT lines:

Accounts filed at the Charity Commission show that the Government paid a total of £113,411 last year to a foundation run by senior members and activists of Hizb ut-Tahrir — a notorious Islamic extremist group that ministers promised to ban.

The schools claim that they are not run by HuT activists, and this might be true, but given that 75% of trustees are members of Hizb it is a worry regardless:

The three schools — in Tottenham, north London, and Slough, Berks — are run by the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation, a registered charity. The foundation’s lead trustee is Yusra Hamilton, a leading Hizb activist who is married to Taji Mustafa, the group’s chief spokesman in Britain. At least three of the four trustees are Hizb members or activists, including Farah Ahmed, the head teacher of the Slough school, who has written in a Hizb journal condemning the “corrupt Western concepts of materialism and freedom”.

On their website, the schools say their “ultimate goal” and “foremost work” is the creation of an “Islamic personality” in children The creation of an “Islamic personality” is a key tenet of Hizb’s ideology. The schools’ history curriculum states that children are taught that “there must be one ruler of the khilafah [caliphate]”. The schools’ website says that “in the glorious history of Islam… the Sharia was the norm”.

I am not sure that Hizb ut-Tahrir should be banned. Banning groups, whatever their views, is often pointless, as it is easy to regroup under a different name and with a few changes (the Lisbon manoeuvre). It is better to target individuals. HuT have also publicly condemned violence, at least in Britain, which again would make banning them difficult.

However, organisations associated with them (or controlled by them) should not be receiving public funds, especially since their constitution was made public. The constitution contains such pledges as the disenfranchisement of non-Muslims (article 7) and the death penalty for apostates (article 26).


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  1. Carl — on 25th October, 2009 at 10:48 pm  

    Scary stuff. The avowed position on the caliphate and the Islamic personality are enough to send chills down any thinking person’s spine – it’s child abuse, full-stop. We might expect this to be the subject of the Nick Cohen’s next Observer column, lets see…

  2. douglas clark — on 25th October, 2009 at 10:53 pm  

    Rumbold,

    Bloody hell!

    My taxes are going to fund this?

    What a complete own goal.

    It should not be particularily difficult to ask, on a grant application:

    “Are you in favour of universal franchise, or not?”

  3. Don — on 25th October, 2009 at 11:10 pm  

    Religion, schools, bad mix.

  4. douglas clark — on 25th October, 2009 at 11:34 pm  

    Don,

    Agreed.

    It seems to me that, for whatever reason Church of England schools seem to have a good reputation and folk don’t want to abandon that perceived better level of education.

    It is that glaring inconsistency that allows the growth of other faith schools. For we are equal opportunity, are we not?

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on that.

    I consider the split between non-denominational and Catholic schools in the West of Scotland to be wrong for multiple reasons, but it is not an arguement that I’d have thought I will ever win. It is just entrenched in perceived advantage.

  5. Sofia — on 26th October, 2009 at 10:46 am  

    surely if they hate western decadence then they shouldn’t be taking public funds from public funds? How much do they practice what they preach..?

  6. Sofia — on 26th October, 2009 at 10:46 am  

    I meant to say ‘money from public funds’

  7. Refresh — on 26th October, 2009 at 10:56 am  

    They must also have a line to the Vatican, this looks like something the Pope said earlier this year:

    “corrupt Western concepts of materialism and freedom”.

  8. Reza — on 26th October, 2009 at 11:12 am  

    Douglas

    “It is that glaring inconsistency that allows the growth of other faith schools. For we are equal opportunity, are we not?”

    Such is the folly of moral relativism.

    Just because we’ve had CofE, Catholic or Jewish schools in this country for centuries should not mean that any religion has the automatic right to set up faith schools.

    There are members of the Dutch Reform Church that sincerely believe that black skin is the ‘mark of Cain’. They say that they hold no ill will towards black people. That’s just part of their religion. So why shouldn’t we allow them to set up a faith school?

    For the same reason that we cannot allow any Islamic school that supports the implementation of sharia law to operate. Because it’s values are opposed to the values of our western liberal democracy.

    And the solution is glaringly simple. Any Islamic school that wishes to operate, never mind receive public funds, must teach that sharia law is unacceptable, here and anywhere else.

    We even have the law to justify this. The European Court of Human Rights has said that “sharia is incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy.”

    But it won’t happen until the intellectually bankrupt ideology of moral relativism (the bedrock of multiculturalism) is rejected by the left.

  9. The Common Humanist — on 26th October, 2009 at 11:13 am  

    Oh Dear Heaven No.

    Lets just start the engines on the UK Sectarian Civil War of 2019 – 2025 right now shall we. Balkanised education = civil war eventually.

    Why the Feck are religious fascists being given taxes to run a school? Infact why are they anywhere near a school full stop?????????

    Hell, why not let the BNP run a school then. Makes about as much sense.

  10. douglas clark — on 26th October, 2009 at 11:21 am  

    Reza @ 8,

    It is a worry to me that I find some common ground with you. F*cks sake, I agree with you….

    See when I’m playing nice I put a * into the word?

  11. douglas clark — on 26th October, 2009 at 11:34 am  

    I’m going to say this, so I am.

    This is completely ludicrous. It is beyond parody. We are giving our dosh to a bunch of Hitler wanabees?

    What the fuck does this government think it is playing at?

    It is all very well for them to write their hateful shite on a web site. It is not all right for our government to bend a fucking knee to these bastards. In fact, I would impose a life sentence on anyone that saw apostasy as worthy of a death sentence.

  12. Reza — on 26th October, 2009 at 11:50 am  

    douglas

    “It is a worry to me that I find some common ground with you. F*cks sake, I agree with you…”

    Of course you agree with me. Who wouldn’t when presented with the extreme example of HuT run schools. But are you willing to go the full stretch and say that all religions and all cultures are not morally equivalent?

    Because when you do there is no alternative but to treat cultural and religious groups differently, based upon how compatible they are with our culture, our values and our western liberal democracy.

    Then you need to define what we mean by “our culture, our values and our western liberal democracy.”

    Can you see where this starts to lead?

    Then you move away from the concept of unquestioning ‘equal rights’ for all and blindly ‘celebrating’ all ‘diversity’.

    It’s a slippery slope. And a painful one.

    I should know. 15 years ago I was a card-carrying Labour Party member and multiculturalism cheerleader.

    But once one accepts the intellectual bankruptcy of moral equivalence, then one must question the ideology behind multiculturalism.

    Banning the teaching of sharia law would close down the HuT schools. And it seems you’d agree with that.

    But it would also close every other Islamic school we have in this country. Indeed, it could very well close down every mosque.

    Would you be willing to go that far?

  13. douglas clark — on 26th October, 2009 at 12:05 pm  

    I am willing to say what Don did.

    Religion, schools, bad mix.

    And I live in a society that cannot extinguish a Catholic / Protestant school split. And my voice is very much in the minority.

    I have no issue with religion, apart from seeing it as quite mad. If you want to be crazy, then I can’t stop you.

    However, I do not subscribe, never have, never will, to any sort of ghettoisation of our educational system, and that includes so-called City Academies that teach the ‘debate’ on creationism -v- Darwinism.

    So.

    I think religion should but out of education completely. If you must pollute your childrens brains, do it in the comfort of your own homes.

    That is what I think.

    And, please, do not try to pull me into a debate about Mosques. Our local Mosque wouldn’t have much truck with religious segregation, unless it saw others getting away with it.

  14. Reza — on 26th October, 2009 at 12:20 pm  

    douglas

    You evaded the question.

    Are you willing to say that all religions and all cultures are not morally equivalent?

    Just because we have C of E and Catholic schools and are in no position to ban them, are you saying that we must have Islamic schools?

    What about Dutch Reformed Church schools? Why not have those?

  15. douglas clark — on 26th October, 2009 at 12:36 pm  

    Reza @ 14,

    To answer your third and fourth paragraphs:

    I’d have thought, correct me if I am wrong, that saying;

    I think religion should but out of education completely.

    was a pretty comprehensive statement.

    On your earlier two paragraphs:

    I have no idea about relative religious worth. I have said elsewhere that I consider Islam to be a tad robotic. I expect to get flamed for that, but I am no friend of any religion whatsoever.

    Griffin claiming this as a Christian country really annoyed me. It is not, and hasn’t been for a long, long time.

  16. Reza — on 26th October, 2009 at 1:14 pm  

    douglas

    So despite what your head told you in #10, you’re not going to allow your ‘faith’ of moral equivalence move you towards rationality.

    “Let’s ban all faith schools”. And because we can’t ban C of E and Catholic schools, then we must tolerate Islamic schools.

    We can’t draw lines in the sand.

    I know that’s how the thinking goes. And I see where it’s got us.

    I’d be very interested to see how that thinking develops if a group of Dutch Reformed Church followers set up their faith school.

    I wonder if that would be enough to move people towards taking a rational stand.

  17. douglas clark — on 26th October, 2009 at 1:23 pm  

    Reza @ 16,

    Well, I don’t know exactly what you are reading here.

    I have not said the words that you are trying to place in my mouth.

    I’d have thought it was pretty clear that I am against all religion in schools.

    I have no idea about Dutch Reformed Church idiots, apart from what you have told me about them. But they would come under the general prohibition of religion in schools that I am advocating, would they not?

    But, there you go, the internet is a wonderful way of not communicating….

    For I surely do think that we ought to draw lines in the sand. Although I expect very little support for my position.

  18. bananabrain — on 26th October, 2009 at 3:43 pm  

    hang on – because HuT are a bunch of bigoted imbeciles, the rest of us should be deprived of a faith element to our schooling? i’ll have you know that public funding is only allowed to be used for stuff on the national curriculum, ie legally required. anything over and above this has to be paid for as an extra. your (and my) tax money is not going towards this.

    For the same reason that we cannot allow any Islamic school that supports the implementation of sharia law to operate. Because it’s values are opposed to the values of our western liberal democracy. And the solution is glaringly simple. Any Islamic school that wishes to operate, never mind receive public funds, must teach that sharia law is unacceptable, here and anywhere else.

    by that logic, you would have to close *all* faith schools, as jewish schools certainly support the operation of halakhah (jewish law) albeit not as a replacement for civil law – this is because of the principle that “dina de-malkhuta dina”, “the law of the land is proper law and must be respected”. i believe there is an islamic equivalent of this, but undoubtedly it is not highlighted by the like of HuT and this is the appropriate place to draw the line.

    The European Court of Human Rights has said that “sharia is incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy.”

    oh, really? and which definition of “shari’a” are they going with? the bit which allows muslims in the UK to say “yes, we’re married, we had a nikah” or the bit that allows sudanese maniacs to drop rocks on womens’ heads? if you don’t understand the difference between one and another (and, indeed, the UK law which provides for parties to opt for any arbitration body they wish) then you have no business making such sweeping generalisations.

    there is no alternative but to treat cultural and religious groups differently, based upon how compatible they are with our culture, our values and our western liberal democracy.

    Then you need to define what we mean by “our culture, our values and our western liberal democracy.”

    Can you see where this starts to lead?

    Then you move away from the concept of unquestioning ‘equal rights’ for all and blindly ‘celebrating’ all ‘diversity’.

    in fact, it puts the onus on UK law to define what it does not permit – i don’t see why this should be a problem nor, in fact, why it should lead to the banning of shari’a any more than it should lead to the banning of halakhah. in any case, you couldn’t ban shari’a any more than you could ban religion itself.

    Banning the teaching of sharia law would close down the HuT schools.

    so would outlawing proselytisation and any number of other options. banning the teaching of shari’a in order to prevent HuT running schools is an illiberal, anti-democratic sledgehammer to crack an admittedly unpleasant but still highly specific nut.

    evidently one can be taught perfectly effectively at school without religion being part of it. however, the religion will still be taught and taught elsewhere, outside of official scrutiny – would you prefer that muslim children only received education at their local mosque instead? i don’t see how that’s going to help matters. and i can’t help seeing how this is going to end up penalising me and many other blameless religious liberals into the bargain, when we’ve done nothing to contribute to this situation arising in the first place – except, perhaps, failing to make it clear just how monolithic religion actually *isn’t*.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  19. douglas clark — on 26th October, 2009 at 4:06 pm  

    bananabrain,

    I’d certainly advocate closing all ‘faith’ based schools, including private ones.

    It is perfectly obvious that religion will be taught elsewhere. Faith based schools are just not something that society should approve of. Which is something the US has right in principle.

    Muslim kids are as obliged as anyone else to be educated. Why would you see them as exempt?

    Just out of curiosity, do your kids go to a Jewish School? I’m only asking because I am unaware of any Jewish only schools up here. And, AFAIK they are not disadvantaged by that.

  20. Reza — on 26th October, 2009 at 4:26 pm  

    Bananabrain

    “…by that logic, you would have to close *all* faith schools, as jewish schools certainly support the operation of halakhah (jewish law) albeit not as a replacement for civil law…”

    I certainly would not.

    The European Court of Human Rights has not criticised Jewish law.

    “…and which definition of “shari’a” are they going with? the bit which allows muslims in the UK to say “yes, we’re married, we had a nikah” or the bit that allows sudanese maniacs to drop rocks on womens’ heads?”

    You’ll find that it was critical of sharia in principle. From the Ruling:

    “[T]he Court considers that sharia, which faithfully reflects the dogmas and divine rules laid down by religion, is stable and invariable. Principles such as pluralism in the political sphere or the constant evolution of public freedoms have no place in it. [...] It is difficult to declare one’s respect for democracy and human rights while at the same time supporting a regime based on sharia, which clearly diverges from Convention values, particularly with regard to its criminal law and criminal procedure, its rules on the legal status of women and the way it intervenes in all spheres of private and public life in accordance with religious precepts.”

    If the European Court came to a similar ruling regarding Halakhah (Jewish Law) then my views on Jewish faith schools might be different. However, everything I’ve seen regarding Jewish Schools (I’ve attended charity events at the Jewish Free School, behind the barbed wire and security guards) is of a belief system and a people that are at ease and compatible with Western values of liberal democracy.

  21. bananabrain — on 26th October, 2009 at 4:35 pm  

    douglas,

    you are of course entitled to your view, but i’m afraid that this one here:

    Faith based schools are just not something that society should approve of.

    will need more than mere assertion to back it up, considering the ones that everyone holds up as examples consistently deliver better-educated kids who are well-integrated into society and contribute disproportionately to its further development and enrichment. i think we’re all pretty agreed that HuT are unlikely to do the same and that, for me, is a better argument than a doctrinaire, blanket objection based, however empirically (from the scottish catholic/protestant divide no doubt) on assertion.

    you’re right – i don’t think muslim kids should be exempt from the obligation to be educated, but banning faith schools would not have the desired effect. there aren’t faith schools in france as far as i know and i’m not aware that the muslim kids there have benefited in any meaningful sense. and a similar argument can be made in terms of the US public schooling system.

    and, yes, my son is at a jewish primary as, if i can afford it, my daughter will be. however, we’re intending to send them to a mixed secondary for reasons which i will be happy to share with you, most but not all of which are academic. as it happens, i know a lot of scottish jews and, of course, they are not academically disadvantaged by not going to a jewish school (they are all quite high achievers in my experience) but the salient fact is:

    a) they have all moved down to london
    b) the scottish community is declining

    lack of communal facilities are commonly cited in connection with this; not just schools but food, culture and social life (not that there isn’t any, it’s just not jewish).

    i guess it depends – you see, there are 2m muslims in this country and only about 350k jews, so the economics of demand are really quite different. i myself cannot see how muslim schools can be objected to unless on your own grounds that all faith schools should be abolished, which has at least consistency in its favour. i would, however, suggest that there is a more productive and less adversarial approach.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  22. bananabrain — on 26th October, 2009 at 4:49 pm  

    reza:

    [T]he Court considers that sharia, which faithfully reflects the dogmas and divine rules laid down by religion, is stable and invariable.

    if that’s what the court thinks, it has adopted the same combination of wishful thinking and fallacious ahistoricity that islamists and other purveyors of “ummah-speak” do, in presenting shari’a as a monolithic, tightly-controlled and centralised. this is false. if it were true, reza, why is it that there’s no enforceable standard for what constitutes halal meat? any old kebab shop can put up a halal sign – who’s doing the checking? is the check the same in camden as it is in bradford? is it the same in the ready meals plant as it is in the restaurant? because, let me tell you, as far as i know this is a problem precisely BECAUSE shari’a is so decentralised – any fecker with a beard and a placard can set up his own shari’a court and start issuing fatwas and licensing kebab shops – there’s no quality assurance whatsoever. this position of the court shows that it is completely out of touch with the reality on the ground.

    Principles such as pluralism in the political sphere or the constant evolution of public freedoms have no place in it.

    nonsense. read mohammed charfi’s “islam and liberty” or farid esack’s “the Qur’an: a user’s guide”. i don’t mean to be rude, but you need to read a bit more, period.

    It is difficult to declare one’s respect for democracy and human rights while at the same time supporting a regime based on sharia, which clearly diverges from Convention values, particularly with regard to its criminal law and criminal procedure, its rules on the legal status of women and the way it intervenes in all spheres of private and public life in accordance with religious precepts.

    i am not “supporting a regime based on shari’a” – i am simply pointing out that the reality is far more complex than both you and this court appear to realise.

    If the European Court came to a similar ruling regarding Halakhah (Jewish Law) then my views on Jewish faith schools might be different.

    really? well, i can tell you that halakhah, whilst more standardised and better quality-assured than shari’a, is scarcely more unified, partly because we have a far longer experience as a minority culture running a parallel system and partly because differences of opinion have been built into it since the beginning. i would argue that the latter is certainly true of shari’a – whilst you can bring points of view that both allow and forbid the consumption of prawns, both from perfectly reputable madhabs, pluralism is certainly an option.

    However, everything I’ve seen regarding Jewish Schools (I’ve attended charity events at the Jewish Free School, behind the barbed wire and security guards) is of a belief system and a people that are at ease and compatible with Western values of liberal democracy.

    hmm. well, i’m sorry to burst your bubble, but the recent furore over the halakhic status of JFS pupils, which had recourse to the civil courts, would tend to indicate otherwise. on the other hand, the opinion of the civil courts has prevailed and the halakhic authorities were forced to give way, which was interesting considering they were being a bunch of illiberal beardies in the first place. that for me indicates that the system is working as it should.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  23. Binky — on 26th October, 2009 at 4:49 pm  

    A B N P PRIMARY SCHOOL

    # 9 # may have been meant as a joke of sorts but it seems a sound idea.

    In a way I got it at Vickerstown County Primary School in Barrow-in-Furness in 1950-1956. Rigorous 3Rs and the times tables drilled until I still know that ‘seven sixes are forty-two’ without needing to think.

    There’d be no shortage of BNP-sympathizer teachers or parents for a pilot scheme in Barking, Burnley or Bradford.

    Someone suggest it to the current Minister of Education, please!

  24. Binky — on 26th October, 2009 at 5:30 pm  

    Talking of education, Here’s something VERY educational; environmental concerns in China.

    http://www.chinahush.com/2009/10/21/amazing-pictures-pollution-in-china/

    PASS IT ON !

  25. Alex Kennedy — on 26th October, 2009 at 6:10 pm  

    If this kind of thing gets you worried then check out http://www.accordcoaliton.org.uk. We are a coaliton of religous and non-religous groups campaigning for an end to discrimination on the grounds of belief in schools. Most of our work is about state funded schools, but this story certainly has alarm bells ringing.

  26. Don — on 26th October, 2009 at 6:21 pm  

    I still know that ’seven sixes are forty-two’ without needing to think.

    That’s education for you, know stuff without needing to think.

    (OK, cheap shot but what the hell)

  27. Reza — on 26th October, 2009 at 9:19 pm  

    Alex Kennedy

    I took a look at your site and it looks interesting. (Your link has an error in it, it should read http://www.accordcoalition.org.uk)

    What are your views on religious segregation and social exclusion in schools? For example, I know that some girls in state schools, even as early a foundation stage, are dressed by their parents in hejab and discouraged from sitting, playing or having physical contact with boys or participating in mixed physical education and swimming.

  28. Rumbold — on 26th October, 2009 at 9:45 pm  

    Heh Don.

  29. falcao — on 27th October, 2009 at 12:58 am  

    This scaremongering is pathetic if they have a curriculam its will be scruitinized by ofsted which gives them the green light or not they have more credibility then the “lets pick on burka wearing community” views of a right wing idiots like mercer and newspapers like the telegraph or daily mail!

  30. The Common Humanist — on 27th October, 2009 at 2:53 pm  

    Falcao

    Whilst RightWingNut idiotarians do jump on bandwagons with abandon, it is still the case that having a group of clerical fascists bent on division and sectarianism to run a school or be allowed anywhere near children is a VERY bad idea indeed.

  31. falcao — on 29th October, 2009 at 11:54 am  

    common humanist

    you have no evidence of your claims of division and sectarianism being preached if you have bring it to the discussion, if anyone can be accused of sectarianism we have to look no further than our own british history and what we have done. So unless you know more than ofsted than i take your claims as similar scaremongering.

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