By Robin Simcox
Channel 4 will tonight broadcast a documentary which reveals exactly what has been going on at a British faith school and madrassa. Undercover reporters have recorded grizzly footage of the type of education being handed out at Darul Uloom Islamic High School in Birmingham and a madrassa in Keighley, west Yorkshire.
In Keighley, the documentary shows pupils being regularly punched and kicked by their teacher. A man has since been arrested on assault charges. In Birmingham, there are no physical attacks but rather a serving up of depressingly familiar sectarian fare. Students are taught that 'disbelievers are the worst creatures' and that people who have 'less than a fistful of beard…you should stay away from him the same way you should stay away from a serpent or a snake'. If you want to avoid being sent to hell and attacked with forked iron rods, then women must not remove their headscarves and shaving, dancing and listening to music are big no-no's. There is also the bizarre claims that Hindu's 'drink piss' and have no intellect; and that 'You're not like the non-Muslims out there. All that evil you see in the streets, people not wearing the hijab properly, people smoking… you should hate it'.
On cue, a supposed liberal has immediately leapt to the defence of a school teaching social segregation, hatred of non-Muslims and religious apartheid. John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, says that 'this kind of documentary is ideal fodder for the EDL. Channel 4 is putting the safety of children at risk by critcising a school which is doing its job properly.'
Presumably then, Hemming thinks the school would not be doing its job properly if it taught that actually non-Muslims are just the same as everybody else; and that chances are you won't be tortured for eternity with iron rods for listening to Jay-Z every now and again. It should also not need pointing out that it is hardly Channel 4 that is putting children's safety at risk; it is the imam who feels it necessary to beat up his pupils for reading the Koran incorrectly.
Saying this documentary should not be made because the EDL may use it as propaganda is a standard tactic of those looking to shut down debate. Raise the problems of Muslims being taught intolerant sectarian nonsense, and someone will immediately bemoan the impact that highlighting this may have on some other unsavoury group. Just look at some of the hysterical responses that Cameron, Sarkozy and Merkel received for suggesting that multiculturalism has failed.
The only other thing as inevitable as a supposed liberal defending this school is the inevitability that OFSTED will have recently given it a glowing report for its tolerance. And, sure enough, OFSTED recently lavished praise on the school's 'interfaith teachings'. You may remember that the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation schools exposed by the Centre for Social Cohesion in 2009 as being effectively run by the revolutionary Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir were similarly gushed over by OFSTED, which praised the school's curriculum, despite its teaching of armed jihad and the need to establish an Islamic state.
Hemming's reaction is significant for another reason. When Channel 4 screened 'Undercover Mosque', which revealed some of the blood-curdling sentiments being voiced in British mosques, West Yorkshire Police referred the documentary to Ofcom for taking quotes 'out of context' (it subsequently had to pay Channel 4 over £100,000 in damages and accept that the documentary 'dealt with the subject matter responsibly and in context'). There will be some who will use tonight's documentary as further proof that Britain is a nation of 'Islamophobes' and that there is nothing to see here. The opposite is true. It is precisely because we are such a tolerant nation that when we see segregation and children being encouraged to hate those different to them we find it utterly unpalatable. Such issues partly explain why there is increased skepticism over the way mulitculturalism has been practiced in the UK.
The Prime Minister's sensible speech in Munich touched on a recognition of some of the problems. Unfortunately, talking tough and doing something about it are two very different things.