Citizenship classes plan ‘not solution’

Citizenship by Steve Bell, The Guardian

UK Citizenship Test

PLANS for citizenship classes to be rolled out to young Muslims in Birmingham have met with a mixed response from prominent members of the city’s faith community.

The proposals, aimed at promoting national pride among British Muslims in a bid to discourage extremist views, were outlined by communities secretary Hazel Blears.

But city councillor Salma Yaqoob, (Respect, Sparkbrook) said the scheme could prove more of a hindrance than a help.

“Anything that promotes citizenship and self-esteem is a good thing but if it targets only Muslims it could make other communities feel rightfully resentful,” she said.

Salma Yaqoob

Salma Yaqoob

“Good citizenship is important to us all. We have to educate the wider society.

“My concern is that, when you single out communities, you reinforce the problems rather than address them.

“We need a holistic approach which all communities need to embrace.”

Mosque teachers in Birmingham, London, Leicester, Oldham, Rochdale and Bradford will be trained over the summer so lessons can be trialled in September to coincide with the start of the new school term.

Stechford Community Centre chairman Mohammed Yasin said: “It’s good to open new dialogue ending misunderstanding about the religion and extremism.

“We are part and parcel of this country.

“As British Muslims we respect the rights and liberties we are offered. Islam does not teach what happened in London (7/7 bombings).

“Those people called themselves Muslims but Islam does not allow what they did.”

The proposals form part of a wider package of measures which include a new independent board of academic and theological experts and a group of community leaders to advise on local responses to extremism.

Source article: Birmingham Mail | Images: Mousumi De, Steve Bell

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kieren on August 12, 2008 at 12:21

    I completely agree with Cllr Salma Yaqoob – why should such classes be brought into mosques, especially if its exclusively done so?
    Such an action will only put Muslims on the defensive… feeling they have to defend an aspect of their identity which no-one else has to. It’s very traumatic, knowing that Muslim teenagers are being put on the spot about patriotism when their non-Muslim counterparts can do as they like without any question of British Pride.
    I hardly think the behaviour of most teenagers in Britain today is a role model of being ‘British’, why not roll out Citizenship classes for potential yobs and anti-social youngsters? After all, being civilised is part of being a ‘proper’ Brit, is it not?
    Muslims shouldn’t be targeted because there’s a few rotten apples on their community either. Yobs can just as easily be attracted to far-right groups as young Muslims can to radical religious groups. David Copeland’s racist explosive attacks on London didn’t result in a call for Citizenships on Chrisitan youth or youngsters from deprived areas in a bid to teach them that blowing people up with nail bombs is ‘un-British’.
    Additionally, why would you simply target Muslims unfairly when many non-Muslim Eastern European, Polish, Asian, Arab and other immigrants sometimes need just as much insight into the British way of life.


  2. Not that I’m impressed a lot, but this is a lot more than I expected for when I found a link on SU telling that the info here is quite decent. Thanks.


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