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Media Monitoring Alert: Protest Attack on Islamic Colleges in The Times

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Protest articles in The Times regarding Hawzah Ilmiyya of London, the Islamic College for Advanced Studies and the Islamic Centre of England.

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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21 April 2006

Media Monitoring Alert: Protest Attack on Islamic Colleges in The Times

Background

IHRC is alerting campaigners to a series of articles in The Times on April 20, 2006 regarding the Hawzah Ilmiyya of London, the Islamic College for Advanced Studies and the Islamic Centre of England. The series involves an article, a short analysis piece and a leading article.

The text can be found at:
Muslim students \'being taught to despise unbelievers as filth\' By Sean O\'Neill http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2142403.html

Quotes must not be taken as read
By Neal Robinson
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2142400.html

Preacher training
Moderate imams are essential for moderate Islam (Leading article)
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,542-2142157,00.html

The series makes a link between part of the course content at the Hawzah Ilmiyyah and the fact that it shares teaching staff with The article by Sean O'Neill makes various claims about course content involving purity and cleanliness relating to 'disbelievers'. Whilst acknowledging that this work is part of the classical canon of Islamic jurisprudence and that it is not taught as doctrine, the article, analysis and leading article make imply and directly accuse all three institutions of promoting the 'crudest extremism'. Further the series is used to claim that Islamic colleges, madrasahs and centres of learning need to have oversight from the Department of Education and that programmes be set up by government to ensure that teaching in such institutions is regulated.

The Times' demonisation of these centres is yet another example of Islamophobic bias and reporting. The analysis piece acknowledges that such texts are taught in courses at universities and seminaries and yet criticism of it being taught at an Islamic college is made on the basis that it may be taught as authoritative. The Times fails to acknowledge that many Christian, Jewish and other educational establishments that affiliate to a certain faith also teach texts with similar content and that some do actually teach them as doctrine. None of these other establishments are called into question. Further those institutions of other faiths where such texts are taught but there is no understanding as to whether they teach such work as doctrine or not are not attacked as are Muslim establishments on the basis that they might undermine social cohesion.

Suggested action

Please write to the editor of The Times protesting their bias against Muslims and Islam. An example can be found below.


online.editor@timesonline.co.uk

The Editor
The Times


Dear Sir,

I am writing to protest your article, analysis and leading article in your 20 April edition concerning the Islamic College of Advanced Studies, Howza Ilmiyyah London and the Islamic Centre England. All imply that the teaching of mediaeval texts by Islamic establishments – even if they are taught only in a historical perspective – is 'disturbing' and could undermine integration of communities in the UK.

I am saddened this approach as it indicates prejudice against Muslims and Islam. No similar criticism is made of Christian, Jewish or any other religious college or institution, although many teach from similar texts in their own traditions, and some, unlike those cited in your article by your own admission, do teach them as authoritative. It seems you would deny Muslims the same rights and opportunities as those of other religions, and indeed wish to curtail their right to academic freedom.

We trust you will allow a substantial response from those you have attacked in these pieces and issue an apology.

Yours faithfully,

Your name


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Holy Qur'an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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