The Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly today launched a new curriculum for Muslim students who attend madrassas. Speaking in Bradford, Kelly said,
“We cannot afford to allow our young people to be intimidated and influenced by extremist messages. Madrasas have a pivotal role to play in winning hearts and minds and supporting young people to reject the messages of extremist groups. This project ensures that young Muslim students learn the true teachings of Islam and encourages them to play an active role in their local communities and as citizens.”
There hasn’t been a huge amount of coverage about these new measures and there has been little response so far from the Muslim community. My thoughts so far:
- Is the intention here to fight terrorism or create a more compliant Muslim community? During the Troubles in NI it was never suggested that state control or interference in Catholic churches would have ended violence.
- Where is the proof of the link between terrorism and madrassahs? Despite the scarcity of evidence to prove such a link, Kelly’s intervention in religious institutions is unprecedented.
- There is a parallel between these new measures and the government intervention in religious communities in the Muslim world.