Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Muslims in Europe

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 9th July, 2008

There was a lively gathering at the Universal Peace Federation’s building in Lancaster Gate, Bayswater, this evening, when the political and social theorist Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh spoke on ‘Muslims in Europe’, on the occasion of the launch of his new book, ‘A New Politics of Identity’ (Palgrave Macmillan, £19.99). An academic expert on multiculturalism (and former Chair of the Runnymede Commission) he outlined in his talk some of the reasons why many Europeans are anxious about Muslims, and why many Muslims are anxious about the host community in which they live, not least in Britain.

The two discussants who followed his talk with short presentations were Professor Kenneth Minogue (Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the LSE) and myself. Ken Minogue effectively played the role of devil’s advocate, even to the extent of advocating war in certain circumstances, whereas I was able to parade arguments for: a genuine European citizenship for everyone, irrespective of ethnicity, religion etc; an analysis of British, French and Spanish approaches to social cohesion in Europe; and a recognition of society as a living organism in a permanent process of mutation. Well, as a Liberal Quaker, I would, wouldn’t I?

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One Response to “Muslims in Europe”

  1. Muslim Schools

    London School of Islamics is an educational Trust. Its aim is to make
    British public, institutions and media aware of the needs and demands of the
    Muslim community in the field of education and possible solutions.

    Slough Islamic school Trust Slough had a seminar on Muslim
    education and schools in Thames Valley Atheltic Centre. The seminar was
    addressed by the education spokesman of MCB. I could not attend the seminar
    but I believe lot of Muslims from Slough and surrounding areas must have
    attended. Very soon, the Muslims of Slough will have a state funded Muslim
    school but there is a need for more schools. A day will come when all Muslim
    children will attend state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim
    teachers as role model.

    Muslim schools are not only faith schools but they are more or less
    bilingual schools.

    Bilingual Muslim children need to learn standard English to follow the
    National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve
    humanity. They need to be well versed in Arabic to recite and understand the
    Holy Quran. They need to be well versed in Urdu and other community
    languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of
    their literature and poetry.

    Bilingualism is an asset but the British schooling regards it as a
    problem. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not
    want to become notoriously monolingual Brit. Pakistan is only seven hours
    from London and majority of British Muslims are from Pakistan.

    More than third of British Muslim have no qualifications. British school
    system has been failing large number of Muslims children for the last 60
    years. Muslim scholars see the pursuit of knowledge as a duty, with the
    Quran containing several verses to the rewards of learning. 33% of British
    Muslims of working age have no qualifications and Muslims are also the least
    likely to have degrees or equivalent qualifications. Most of estimated
    500,000 Muslim school-aged pupils in England and Wales are educated in the
    state system with non-Muslim monolingual teachers. Majority of them are
    underachievers because they are at a wrong place at a wrong time.

    Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual
    Muslim teachers during their developmental periods. There is no place for a
    non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. As far as higher education
    is concerned, Muslim students can be educated with others. Let Muslim
    community educate its own children so that they can develop their own
    Islamic, cultural and linguistic identities and become usefull members of
    the British society rather than becoming a buden.

    We are living in an English speaking country and English is an
    international language, therefore, we want our children to learn and be well
    versed in standard English and at the same time well versed in Arabic, Urdu
    and other community languages. Is there anything wrong with this approach?

    It is not only the Muslim community who would like to send their children to
    Muslim school. Sikh and Hindu communities have started setting up their
    schools. Last week. British Black Community has planned the first all black
    school with Black teachers in Birmingham.

    Scotland’s first state funded Muslim school could get the go-ahead within
    months after First Munister Alex Salmond declared he was sympathetic towards
    the needs and demands of the Muslim community.
    Iftikhar Ahmad
    London School of Islamics Trust
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

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