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UK orders urgent review of Islamic study courses

16-05-2006

London, IRNA:

The British government is ordering an urgent review of university Islamic courses in its latest crackdown in the `war on terrorism'.

The review was announced by Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell, who voiced alarm that there was evidence "narrow and unhelpful" interpretations of Islam were available to "many" young people.

"There is a concern that the teachings which the great majority of Muslims would want to stress about living in peace, protecting the vulnerable, avoiding harm to others, are sometimes sidelined," Rammell said at London's South Bank University on Monday.

"There is reason to think that in some cases students are being exposed, more than any of us would like, to wrong-headed influences under the name of religion," he said.

His call comes after former education secretary Ruth Kelly urged universities and colleges last September to crackdown on `extremism' by identifying and confronting "unacceptable behavior on their premises and within their community."

In his speech, Rammell said that there was particular concern about teachings that "either explicitly condone terrorism, or foster a climate of opinion which is at least sympathetic to terrorists' motivation."

"Pockets of discontent emerge, impressionable young people become vulnerable to extremists and Muslims become less integrated and more isolated," he said while also proposing that schoolchildren are taught "traditional British values" to challenge extremism.

The minister announced a review of Islamic education at universities would be carried out by Ataullah Siddiqui, a senior research fellow at the Islamic Foundation in Leicester in central England.

It comes after the government passed a new law outlawing the "glorification" of terrorism, which Muslims fear could be used against any expression of sympathy with the Palestinians.

Academics have also expressed concern that the new terrorism bill could undermine academic freedom and even obstruct the teaching of science, the study of the Middle East, and sharing of information by librarians.

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