Azara Blog: Government wants to control the teaching of Islam in universities

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Date published: 2007/06/04

The BBC says:

The teaching of Islam in English universities is based on "out-of-date and irrelevant issues", a government commissioned report has concluded.

Academic Ataullah Siddiqui's review paints a picture of Islamic studies departments where the post-9/11 and 7 July world has largely passed them by.

It argues that more emphasis should be placed on Islam in a modern context.

Ministers will now label Islamic studies a "strategic subject" because of its role "in preventing extremism".

The review was commissioned by the DfES to assess the way in which Islam is taught and to improve support and advice available to Muslim students.

It was published as Tony Blair prepared to give a speech on Islam and the importance of British Muslims in London.

Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said the review provided a helpful contribution to a particularly complex and sensitive subject.

"The effective and accurate delivery of Islamic studies within our universities is important for a multitude of reasons including wider community cohesion and preventing violent extremism in the name of Islam," he said.

This was why an extra £1m was being invested in the training of imams and why Islamic Studies was being designated a "strategic subject", he added.

A strategic subject is one where it is in the national interest to safeguard research and graduates with the right knowledge and skills.

Science and engineering subjects are designated strategic subjects.

Mr Rammell added that Dr Siddiqui's review, as well as other reports and conferences on Islam in higher education, suggested Islamic studies departments were concentrating too much on a Middle Eastern focus and ignore the realities of Islam in modern multi-cultural Britain.

Unbelievable, the government thinks it knows how to teach Islamic Studies better than the universities. You can guarantee that any propaganda inserted into university courses by the government will be treated with the disdain it deserves. And imagine the furore and incredulity if the BBC had written:

The teaching of Christianity in English universities is based on "out-of-date and irrelevant issues", a government commissioned report has concluded.

Academic Ataullah Siddiqui's review paints a picture of theology departments where the post-9/11 and 7 July world has largely passed them by.

But the BBC and the government can blithely write patronising rubbish about Islam without blinking an eye.

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