Sunday, June 9, 2013

Education: We Still Welcome Islam..Yet.. Meanwhile in Gaza...

I always have a song playing in my head when I read these stories ("Dhimmitude")...

Integrating Islam: Can school meet its goal of creating ‘well adjusted’ Muslim members of Canadian society?  (Sarah, Boesveld, June 2, 2013)

When a girl enters Grade 4 at the London Islamic School in London, Ont., a hijab becomes a mandatory part of her uniform. She and her peers begin attending Friday prayer in the adjacent London Muslim Mosque. Students attend classes on Koran, Islamic and Arabic Studies and pray multiple times a day.
More than 7,000 academics are gathered in Victoria, B.C., this week for the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, presenting papers on everything from the errant lessons of Grey’s Anatomy to accidentally racist cartoon turtles. In this week-long series, the National Post showcases some of the most interesting research.
Principal Omar Hamadache of the London Islamic School chats with students during recess.They also participate in the local science fair, Jump Rope for Heart, the Multiple Sclerosis Society Read-a-thon, and the Gauss Math Challenge. This year, the Kindergarten to Grade 8 school of more than 260 students started a basketball team that competes with other schools in London. They meet and associate with non-Muslims, while able to learn and grow in their faith during school — a critical move for private Muslim schools to make if they want to help immigrant children integrate into Western society while simultaneously stomping out suspicion, a researcher argued at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Victoria this week.
“This is their way of building that bridge and building that connection with other schools so they’re not just exposed to their own faith but they’re also exposed to other faiths and to be able to interact with other faiths in a healthy way,” said Asma Ahmed, a PhD candidate in education studies at the University of Western Ontario. She discussed her research this week as part of a panel on independent religious schools post-John Tory’s 2007 Ontario provincial campaign bid to partly fund these private institutions.
“It’s acknowledging ‘Yes, our kids are sheltered or could potentially be if we do not take the step to build relationships with the community at large.’”
Dave Chidley For National PostThough Ms. Ahmed focused her academic analysis on the London Islamic School, where she had worked as a phys-ed teacher in 2009-2010, she believes there are Muslim schools in Canada that could be at the “settlement” stage, characterized in Mr. Ramadan’s book What I Believe as “Millstones:” Having a mindset of a discriminated-against minority, holding a victimized mindset, an abode of war, mistrust of fellow citizens, unquestioning loyalty to the home country, one identity and a literalist approach. The “Milestones” are schools (and, in Mr. Ramadan’s context, people), that think of themselves as part of the majority — as citizens with equal rights; they have an abode of witness or testimony, they work on nurturing trust, they’re loyal yet critical of their country and reformist in nature.
Ms. Ahmed applied to Muslim schools a continuum created by Swiss academic and author Tariq Ramadan, who has written books on integration and the challenges of Muslim youth in the West. He writes: “Are Muslims truly capable of living in secularized societies? Are their values compatible with those of democracy? … Can they combat the shocking behaviour exhibited in their name, in the form of terrorism, domestic violence, forced marriage and the like?”
This transition has been tricky since 9/11 severely rattled relations between Muslim countries and the West, leaving emigrated Muslim-North Americans trapped in the middle. The openness and engagement in community at the London Islamic School and in others, Ms. Ahmed said, is partly in response to that.
“After 9/11, certain Muslims would say ‘Now we have become the victims, we are on the receiving end of these hate crimes,’” she said. Others — the majority, Ms. Ahmed said — saw it as an opportunity to aid better integration, to connect with community, she said. In London, for example, mosques sent out invitations for people in the community to come visit.
“Even the MS Read-a-thon, and working with public schools — all of these were ways for us to open our schools and invite people to see who we are for what we are,” she said.
Ms. Ahmed set out to explore the purpose of the London Islamic School — a private school devoted to teaching the faith — and its role in helping Muslim youth integrate.
In her 23 interviews with teachers, students, parents and two non-Muslim community members as well as an analysis of the curriculum and community integration of the school, Ms. Ahmed concluded the school is providing the “integration” stage for students, but has farther to go — namely, to make the religious teaching more engaging and relevant to students and develop an awareness of “faithfulness in everyday life.”
Dave Chidley For National Post
The interviews showed at least some of the participants saw the school and students as being “segregated” or isolated from the wider London community, she said.
The school is committed to full integration, said principal Omar Hamadache in an email interview — the vision of the school is to “build strong moral character so that our children become well adjusted, contributing members to the Canadian social fabric.”
“For now, as part of the transition program for our students in grades 7 and 8, we get them to interact more and more with other schools (public and Catholic) in order to expose them to the different environments,” he said. “In addition, integrating more social volunteering and having our students contribute time to charitable causes remains a priority.”
The school has even hired a few non-Muslim teachers and welcomed their first non-Muslim student this year — a girl whose parents wanted to expose their daughter to the Muslim culture and faith.
“She blended in very well from the start, and her parents are very satisfied with the influence and impact that the school has had on her so far,” Mr. Hamadache said. “Our doors are always open for similar cases in the future.”



Five Gaza Christian Schools Face Closure after Hamas Ruling (David Wood, June 8, 2013)

Meanwhile, Muslim groups like CAIR and ISNA are constantly complaining about Islamophobia in the U.S.(—Five Christian schools in Gaza are facing closure if Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, follows through on a new law forbidding co-educational institutions

.“This will be a big problem. We hope they will not go through with it, but if they do, we will be in big trouble. We don’t have the space and we don’t have the money to divide our schools,” Father Faysal Hijazin, director-general of Latin Patriarchate Schools in the Palestinian territories and Israel, told the U.K.’s Catholic Herald.The Gaza Strip has a small Christian community, numbering around 3,000 people.

 Most of the students at the five Christian schools are Muslim students. But the schools are the only ones with mixed enrollment in Gaza. Under Hamas’s new law, male and female teachers would not be permitted to teach classes of the opposite sex after the age of 10.“It is a concern that in education things are getting more conservative,” Father Hijazin said. “It reflects the whole society. This is of concern to both Christians and moderate Muslims. It is not easy to be there.” (Source)