Irish schools must accommodate Islam
A spokesman for the Muslim community in Ireland has called for radical change in the educational system to accommodate children with Islamic beliefs.
According to the Irish Times, Dr Ali Selim, of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Dublin’s Clonskeagh and a lecturer in the Mater Dei Institute and Trinity College, has called for “a revolution of inclusivity” in Irish schools and “an upheaval in Irish educational perspectives”.
This was necessary to accommodate the needs of a society which is now “home to a variety of Christian denominations, as well as people of other faiths and of none”, he says in his book Islam and Education in Ireland, to be published next week.
Estimating that of approximately 65,000 Muslims in Ireland today as many as 20,000 would be in the under-18 school-going age, he relates difficulties these young people face when it comes to admission to schools, as well as their problems with PE classes, relationship and sexuality education, music and drama classes, and practice of their faith during school hours.
Muslim festivals are neither celebrated or marked in the calendar in Irish schools.
He suggests they be days off for Muslim children. During Ramadan, the month of fasting, Muslims give to charity and schools could co-operate by “raising funds for the poor and the needy”. But no raffles, please.
Any form of raffle is strictly forbidden in Islam.
About the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme in schools Dr Selim says there are “crucial differences” with regards to Islam.
It forbids pre- and extramarital sexual relations, whereas RSE perceives sexual relations outside wedlock as part of normal practices.
He suggests there is “a clash of values” also between Islam and “traditional ways of teaching PE”.
In some schools:
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.
Where schools were “persistent”, they should:
Employ a female PE teacher and provide students with a sports hall not accessible to men during times when girls are at play. They should also not be visible to men while at play.
Also, Muslim girls would resist changing clothes in a communal area.
When it came to music some Muslims would see it as prohibited but Selim says there’s wiggle room:
If music is performed using non-tuneable percussion instruments such as drums, most Muslims will have no problem.
Turning to school plays Dr Selim insisted that
Gender role-reversal is not permissible.
Acting in a way that may arouse sexual feeling or give sexual hints causes objection.