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.
“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.