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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nice school ya got there - shame if something happened to it

There's a lot that disturbs me about this story. A Toronto Islamic school is investigated by the York Regional Police's hate crimes unit after complaints are made about racist materials in its curriculum. After a six month investigation, no charges are laid, but the school administration receives a friendly "visit" from the police "advising" them to change their curriculum to make it more reflective of Canadian values. Is this what we want in our country - police making "suggestions" to private groups and organizations that have not broken the law but have the audacity to challenge state-approved orthodoxy? I agreee with the school's critics that the material being taught in the school is offensive and outrageous, but that in no way justifies the heavy-handed actions of the police.

Here's a sample from the school's curriculum resources :
End of Jewish Plots and Treacheries: Ever since the Prophet’s entry into Madina, the treacherous Jews had vehemently opposed him and his Islamic call, evoking memories of their hostility to the previous Prophet, Jesus Christ, half a millennium ago. The crafty Jews entered into an alliance with the polytheist Quraish in a bid to stamp out Islam. They conspired to kill Prophet Muhammad despite the fact that he was lenient towards them and had treated them kindly, hoping to convince them of Islam’s truth. But eventually as Jewish plots and aggressions increased, he had no choice other than to take up arms against them, in order to protect Islam and the Muslims. At the battle of Khaiber which is famous for Imam Ali’s heroic exploits, the Prophet defeated them ending Jewish intrigues and conspiracies in Arabia.
Islam has allowed boys to engage in sports for one specific reason and that is to always keep them healthy and strong. But why should a Muslim be healthy and strong? Firstly, it is necessary to take care of the body because it is a gift from Allah. Secondly, so that you may physically be ready for jihad whenever the time comes for it.
Teaching young impressionable Muslim children about the "crafty Jews" and their history of treachery, and preparing young boys for jihad is not acceptable in Canada. It is offensive. Although a private school, it was operating in a public building owned by the Toronto District School Board, and the TDSB was right to terminate the school's permit to use their facility.

The police investigated the school's curriculum material, some of which came from Iran, and found that there was no basis to lay criminal charges. That wasn't enough for the York Regional Police, though:
“To demonstrate the thoroughness of our investigation we found it important to articulate that there are portions in there that clearly are not criminal, but perhaps from a pluralistic standpoint don’t necessarily appear to be the types of teachings that you would hope to see in an open forum,” Det. Brett Kemp said in an interview.
He said while the role of police was to investigate whether the teaching materials violated Canadian law, investigators felt the need to draw attention to concerns identified during a review of the madrassah’s syllabus books.
“That review looked at the content in its entirety and there were some we thought, ‘This isn’t a police issue, this is non-criminal, however to be more reflective of Canadian core values it perhaps needs to be revisited and perhaps needs to be taught in a slightly different way.’”

Pardon me, but it isn't the job of police to decide what is "reflective of Canadian core values". It is their job to enforce the laws of Canada, end of story. When the police start dropping around for a chat, suggesting that while you haven't broken any laws, you might just want to watch your step (wink, wink), then we are not living in a free society. Once we allow the police to start doing this, where does it end? It won't stop at religious organizations - eventually political groups, bloggers and even private citizens who dare to challenge Canadian shibboleths like multiculturalism, bilingualism and abortion will be receiving "friendly visits" from the Boys in Blue.

The proper response to unacceptable or offensive opinions is to give them lots of publicity, expose them to public scrutiny (and ridicule if need be), and to refute them with more free speech. When the police decide what opinions are "the types of teachings that you would hope to see in an open forum", then there is in fact NO open forum, and unpleasant or dangerous ideas are driven underground.


Sandy said...

As a retired educator/academic who taught prospective teachers, the proper response in this instance would be for the Ontario Ministry of Education to remove their private school licence.

Why? Because the MOE has certain expectations regarding the curriculum that is taught in any Ontario school, public or private.

There is no situation, for example, where it is possible for children to be taught hate in Ontario, regardless of our freedoms.

In other words, IMO, I agree with you Erik, that it is not a police matter. For me, it should have been an education matter -- thus the TDSB removing their right to teach in a public building.

But, believe me, there is no reason to worry about free speech because the Ontario MOE is very open to a wide variety of multi-cultural views.

Hate or bigotry is not multi-cultural.

Anonymous said...

Sandy I find that a little rich considering what is taught and/or not taught in our public schools presently.
Ontario is especially intolerant, perverted and just down right wrong, one might say criminal(as in the perversions they teach to very young children).
I was in grade school when they started the present indoctrinations and dumbing down of our kids 1972(curriculum change socialism ra ra ra), I rebelled thankfully, even at that age I could spot indoctrination when I saw it.
FYI bigotry and hate are universal, it's only fools who pretend otherwise leaving themselves open to it and not equipping our children to deal with it.
It's that attitude that opened the way for this school, we are all the same BS, all cultures are equal BS. I call that a point in every direction/no point at all.

Anonymous said...

Shorter Sandy: freedom is good except when I disagree with what you're doing.