Yesterday I spoke about a huge row in Britain about faith schools. What has really fueled the debate is the increase of Muslim schools, what are called "voluntary-aided schools." These schools operate with the financial support of the government. They are really faith-based state schools as distinct from secular state schools. At present there are more than 100 private Muslim schools and eight state-funded Muslim schools in Britain. At the beginning of 2007, David lay the risk of undermining the coherence of British society. He worried that "many young people were being educated with little appreciation of their wider responsibilities and obligations to British society". He added, we "must not allow our recognition of diversity to become apathy in the face of any challenge to our coherence as a nation."
There is something unique to Muslim schools, something that is not true of Jewish or nominally Christian schools in England. It is that Muslim schools do not lead to the integration of their pupils into the life of the nation. Even though the children of Muslim immigrants are born in Britain and are educated with the help of British taxes, they do not really become British. Despite this, as the Times Online stated in an op-ed article, "Tony Blair decided the government would offer voluntary aided status to 120-150 independent Muslim schools, bringing them in line with the existing 6,850 Christian and Jewish schools - in other words it will create masses of Muslim state schools. The heart sinks. How, in the name of integration, familiarity and trust, can it possibly be a good idea to have lots of state schools that are exclusively Muslim, with Muslim teachers, Muslim traditions and intense Islamic education?"
The government now says that all new faith schools-i.e., Muslim schools-will have to make 25% of their places available to those outside their faith. The government minister then hinted that-to be fair to the new Muslim schools-all faith schools would have to do the same. Now this is dangerous. The government should stop what one writer termed "sleepwalking to apartheid" and refuse to allow any financial support to any schools that set themselves against the ideals of British society. It should criminalize any purportedly educational program that inculcates violence or that supports Islamic or other terrorists. It should then keep its nose out of purely theological issues.
The government will do none of this. Instead it will capitulate to Muslim pressure. It will allow Muslim schools to polarize British society and the only targets at which it will shoot its arrows of wrath are those schools and churches that dare to oppose its policy of accommodating the destructive and insatiable demands of Islamic radicals. "Sleepwalking to apartheid" is an apt phrase to describe this policy of madness. Or we could go even further and see it as it is, the cringing, fawning and cowardly capitulation of spineless politicians who desperately, but vainly, hope that their pliability will help them avoid the runaway train of Muslim fanaticism.