A Muslim in Australia is warning that any hostility towards Islamic schools could force that famous oxymoron, religious education, underground. The implication seems to be that, if the kids can't be indoctrinated in a Muslim religious school, they'll learn all the wrong things from extremists.
Ikebal Patel, president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, seems to forget, conveniently, that the kids could be radicalised whether they're at state schools or Islamic schools.
"Muslim children [are] being given their religious education in backyards and garages by teachers whose credentials no one could vet," he says in a story in today's Guardian. "You may have some very extreme imams or religious teachers getting through to the children."
He was commenting on a decision by a council on the outskirts of Sydney to reject a proposal for an Islamic school. The project was turned down on planning and environmental reasons, or so it is said, but the decision has obviously gone down well with the hundreds of residents who opposed it.
Ali Roude, president of the Islamic Council of New South Wales, says that other mosques, Islamic centres and schools are being rejected under a smokescreen of planning problems. "It does not help the image of Australia because we should be taking pride in setting an example to the whole world that we can live together," he says.
The best way to live together, chum, is for all kids not to go to segregated schools, but to be educated together, leaving religious differences for the home and the meeting house. But you jut can't tell that to religionists.