End Institutional Islamophobia in the British Education System


Islamic Human Rights Commission

For immediate release
28th October 1999

End Institutional Islamophobia in the Education System
IHRC calls on David Blunkett to issue guidelines to stop discrimination

Today, IHRC has written to David Blunkett, Minister for Education, regarding institutionalised Islamophobia in the British education system.

Over the last couple of years, IHRC has found itself dealing with an ever increasing number of cases of blatant Islamophobia and / or unlawful discrimination against Muslims, purely on the basis of their Muslim identity.

Cases involve, inter alia, the refusal to allow Muslim girls the right to wear a scarf, or Muslim youth to grow a beard. Deeply held Islamic values have routinely been trodden upon, by an educational establishment with little regard to civil rights or the law. This unjustifiable and unlawful discrimination is an obstacle to the education of Muslim children and youth, and is leading many schools, boards of governors and teachers to believe that the law can be ignored to pander to prejudice. This in turn leads to the demoralisation of Muslim youth and their alienation from education and society.

In the letter, the chairman of IHRC, Massoud Shadjareh, concludes:

“Our experiences in dealing with such cases have led us to conclude that the time has come for the Department of Education to issue clear guidelines to schools that strongly discourage the practices outlined above. Indeed, such rules and policies have been deemed to be indirect discrimination, as defined by the case Begum vs. IBC Vehicles Ltd.

“The situation of the Muslim community is made much worse by the refusal of the British government to provide adequate – or even equitable – funding for Muslim schools, or even to provide consultancy services to assist Muslim groups in setting up schools that can obtain government funding.

The objective should be to develop an education system that provides real choice at all levels for all groups in society, without discrimination and bigotry. We urge you to take immediate action to address the issues outlined above, and to remove the burden of oppression from Muslim children and youths.”

IHRC calls on the government to address Islamophobia as a whole, and recognise and protect Muslim identity through legislation, in accordance with international treaties and covenants on human rights.

For more information, please contact the Press Office on (+44) 20 8902 0888, (+44) 958 60 74 75, (+44) 958 522 196, e-mail: ihrc@dial.pipex.com