Daily Mail (London), October 18, 2011
More than 400 children have complained of physical abuse at Islamic schools in the UK, but only two people have been convicted, figures revealed today.
And just 10 of the 420 cases made it as far as court, raising fresh concerns over the use of corporal punishment in Muslim classes.
The issue was first highlighted in February, when a shocking documentary secretly filmed teachers in a part-time faith school hitting children and delivering lessons in hatred and segregation.
Now a radio programme has obtained figures that show the true extent of the daily abuse.
Corporal punishment is actually still legal in part-time education in England, where lessons are taught for fewer than 12.5 hours per week.
This is the case at madrassas–religious classes held in mosques for Muslim children after school and at weekends.
Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, founder of the Muslim Institute, told the BBC’s File on 4: ‘We are basically destroying the lives of young people.
‘Some kind of system must be put in place to ensure that only teaching takes place there, not sexual or physical abuse.’
The Radio 4 programme obtained figures from 180 local authorities that showed there were 89 abuse allegations in 2008, 178 in 2010 and 146 between January and September this year.
Dr Siddiqui said there should be a national registration scheme for the schools, which take up to 500,000 students a day in England, Scotland and Wales.
A report by Sir Roger Singleton, the chief adviser on child safety, recommended that it should be banned last year, but so far nothing has been done.
February’s Dispatches documentary ‘Lessons in Hatred and Violence’ showed pupils as young as six being slapped around the head and kicked at the Markazi Jamia mosque in Keighley, West Yorkshire.
In another incident an older boy, left in charge of a class while a teacher is out at prayer, picks up a bench and threatens to hit a younger boy with it.
The Channel 4 programme found that beatings were routine, with children flinching and backing away when their teacher approached.
The documentary contained stories of adults in a position of responsibility using objects such as sticks and shoes to attack children.
But the reporters found that many families were reluctant to speak out, afraid of reprisals or condemnation from their community.
There are at least 2,000 independent Islamic faith schools in Britain, some full-time, others part-time.
At many of these institutions, which escape most Government regulation, children are being taught a hardline and anti-social form of Islam.
The TV programme also filmed independent Darul Uloom Islamic High School in Birmingham teaching children as young as 11 that Hindus have ‘no intellect’ and ‘drink cow p***’.
Mohammed Shahid Raza, chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, told the BBC the abuse figures were ‘very alarming and shocking’.
He said: ‘There is no justification for such punishments within our mosque schools.
‘I’m not sure how wide this unacceptable practice is, but our responsibility is to make those who run the mosques realise we live in a civilised society and this is not acceptable at any cost.’
A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘The Government does not support the use of physical punishment in schools and other children’s settings.
‘Abuse and harm to children is unacceptable and any allegations should be reported to the police.
‘We expect any organisation working with children to take their responsibilities seriously to protect children or vulnerable adults.’
Ministers have met Sir Roger and are considering the recommendations made in his report on the physical punishment of children, the spokesman added.