Saturday 14 December 2019

Do you worry your child's school is not sufficiently Islamic?

Do you worry that your child's school isn't muslim enough?
Do you worry that your child's school isn't muslim enough?
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

The morning rush hour has returned in all its frustrating glory. The radio has been busy with tearful Mammies. And, of course, the sun is shining.

It can all mean only one thing - it's back to school time. So, you're probably worried about the cost of the uniforms, the cost of the books - not to mention the weight of them - and the universal hope that your child will have a positive experience.

But are you worried that your child's school is not sufficiently Islamic? Well, Ali Selim is.

Mr Selim, of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh, has long argued that Muslims are a put-upon minority in this country and has called for a 'revolution of inclusivity' in Irish schools.

He complains that: "Gaining admission to Irish schools is a challenge for Muslims" and cites numerous examples of the ways Muslim kids are 'oppressed' by the Irish education system. He objects to Christmas being celebrated when: "Muslim festivals are neither marked nor celebrated." He objects to the way Muslim girls are treated during PE class because: "Under the guise of health and safety, Muslim girls are obliged to take off their headscarves for PE classes, which is not acceptable to them".

But that's not all. He also objects to the way sex education is conducted. And, for good measure, he objects to the way music is being taught in schools, although he is gracious enough to concede that: "If music is performed using non-tuneable percussion instruments such as drums, most Muslims will have no problem". That's nice of him and will come as good news to Ireland's underemployed drum teachers.

But everyone else is perfectly entitled to look at Selim's suggestions and see not a request based on inclusivity, but a demand for concessions which, were they to come from any other religion, would be immediately dismissed.

Selim can dress up his farcical demands as being about tolerance all he wants. But we are in the process, however slow, of removing religion from our schools, so the idea of reversing that trend to accommodate his extraordinary intolerance reads like a bad satire.

It is frustrating, but not surprising, that so many liberals have allowed themselves to duped into tolerating intolerance in the name of pluralism and the fear of being dubbed a racist.

That intellectual cowardice, which allows people attack the Catholic Church at every available opportunity while simultaneously accepting the increasingly arrogant demands of a small but vocal minority, is a recipe for cultural disaster in this country.

Looking at the bigger picture, we only need to look at our European neighbours to see the damage caused by the failed and pernicious experiment that was multiculturalism.

Selim's realsises all too well that he lives in a society which has no respect for its own traditions and is willing to accept the unacceptable in the name of diversity.

If an unreconstructed Catholic fundamentalist demanded that their local school operated a strict apartheid between boys and girls, stopped teaching about relationships and sex, and even stopped the type of music being currently taught they would be rightly dismissed as a crank.

But because we are paralysed by cowardice, we are prepared to give people like Selim a say in how he wants our schools to be run. His demands may be unreasonable, but they are not irrational. Nor are they unique. Wherever a Muslim population settles in any country in the West, these issues inevitably appear.

If you move to a country that has historically been Christian and democratic, as all Western countries are, then you should accept the house rules. In fact, when you look at the ones who have come here to escape persecution in their own country, then the onus is on them to adapt, not the other way around.

A country that is only now beginning to shed the trappings of irrational religiosity in public life is now expected to replace one theocracy with another.

Mr Selim is correct when he talks of a 'clash of values.' But they are our values, and it is up to us to protect them, rather than running for cover everytime a Muslim expresses an objection to our way of life.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss