October 19, 2011

Physical abuse unchallenged in UK Islamic schools

by Jan Harris

Up to 500,000 students a day attend British madrassas but the physical abuse of pupils at these institutions is slipping through a loophole in the law according to a BBC investigation.

Figures obtained by Radio 4’s ‘File on 4’ programme show that in the last three years more than 400 allegations of physical abuse against pupils at madrassas were made, but just 10 cases came to court and there were only two convictions.

Although corporal punishment is outlawed in UK schools it is still legal in part-time education settings in England if pupils attend lessons for fewer than 12.5 hours per week.

The alarming figures uncovered by the BBC have led to calls for this anomaly in the law to be addressed urgently.

A report by the Independent Safeguarding Authority’s chief adviser on child safety, Sir Roger Singleton, is being considered by the government.

Published last year, it recommended that corporal punishment should be banned.

Muslim children attend madrassas in the UK for around 10 hours each week learning to recite the Koran in Arabic.

The Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, which is responsible for improving standards in mosques, called the figures ‘very, very alarming and shocking’ and said it would address the issue urgently.

Earlier this month scientist Richard Dawkins attacked Muslim schools for teaching creationism.

He said the schools were filling pupils’ heads with ‘alien rubbish’.

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