Dutch authorities, both Islamic and secular, are shocked — SHOCKED, I tell you! — to learn that violent extremism is being taught in Salafist mosque schools in the Netherlands.
Great concern in the Tweede Kamer [Parliament] After investigation into Salafist mosque schools
Children in Salafist mosque schools learn that people with another religious belief or lifestyle deserve the death penalty. They also learn to turn away from Dutch society and the principles of equality and freedom.
In various mosque schools, instructors teach that Muslim youths must leave this infidel land and settle in an Islamic land. That is the conclusion of an investigation by Nieuwsuur and NRC Handelsblad regarding Salafist institutions that fall outside of regular education.
Both in political circles and within the Islamic community there is a shocked response. Gert-Jan Segers of Christian Union and VVD leader Klaas Dijkhoff want to have the law amended so that after information has been received, the education inspectorate can also intervene in informal education, whereas it can now only inspect regular schools.
The Moroccan-Dutch Society also reacted in shock. A sheikh, an imam and an Islamic teacher, active in traditional Moroccan mosques, call the Salafist lessons “horrible”.
Nieuwsuur and NRC conducted an investigation into dozens of education centers, which are Salafist or influenced by Salafism, and studied the teaching material for different age groups. Teachers throughout the country glorify a system where sharia punishment — the Islamic law — applies.
Death by sword
From lessons and from the textbooks, children learn which groups and sorts of people are “enemies” or “unbelievers”, and prescribes the death penalty that adulterers, homosexuals, apostates, and so-called “wizards”, among others, deserve. Children get fill-in exercises and multiple choice questions. They must, for example, choose the correct punishment: (a) lashing, (b) stoning, (c) death by sword.
Within informal Islamic education, Salafism, a fundamental movement within Islam is becoming increasingly influential. Nieuwsuur and NRC identified at least 50 educational establishments that are Salafist or becoming strongly influenced by it. In those locations more than a 1,000 children take Islamic lessons on evenings or weekends.
During the investigation, NRC and Nieuwsuur listened to about 70 hours of audio and video recordings of lessons which the Islamic organizations themselves put online. The editors also asked the organizations about their teaching material. Then, when it appeared that they were not open about it, the two editors decided, due to the enormous societal importance, not to identify themselves as journalists. The two editors approached the organizations asking which educational materials they use, presenting themselves as parents considering enrolling their children. After this, they came into possession of the teaching material.
Said Bouharrou, from the Council of Moroccan Mosques, is worried over the influence of Salafism within Islamic education in the Netherlands, which he also sees growing. “It is 5 minutes to 12,” he says. According to Bouharrou, various Moroccan-Dutch imams are worried, but don’t always dare to speak out for fear of reprisals.
Salafists would threaten more moderate imams or put pressure on them. Last year an investigation by Nieuwsuur and NRC showed that dozens of Islamic organizations in the Netherlands have received funding or applied for funding from the Gulf states in recent years.
The flow of money is controversial, due to the concern that Salafism is being exported to Dutch houses of worship. For years the Tweede Kamer has asked for transparency about the flow of money.
Reactions from educational organizations
Three organizations where Salafist lessons are being given have reacted to the questions from Nieuwsuur and NRC.
The Taubah Foundation in Veenendall emphasizes that Islamic teacher Aboe Aicha has since left, and say that it is not a Salafist organization, leaving unanswered the question of whether the foundation stands behind the utterances by Aboe.
Abou Bakr Assadik Mosque in Almere renounces the statements of Mohammed Youyou in a lesson given in the mosque. “This concerns quotes that we as a board completely reject and we find that they are not in line with the principles of Islam.”
The As-Sunnah Foundation in Maastricht reacts with a 4,000-word explanation in which the foundation, among other things, attempts to apply the nuance that not everyone who deviates from the righteous teaching must be boycotted, and such a measure should be applied to people who stubbornly ignore the “new light”. On the lesson on physical punishment for various offenses, As-Sunnah says, “It has been made clear in this lesson that we as Muslims must abide by the laws in the Netherlands. Our goal in the relevant lesson was to prevent extremism.”
The response from SGL Maastricht: “In this broadcast, images are shown of the SGL in Maastricht, which can give the impression that Salafist education is currently taking place in this location. That is not the case. The named Islamic organization has in the past made use of this location. SGL ended this a year and a half ago and has no connection with this Islamic organization. SGL is a health care institution, and from a social point of view, makes its locations available to local social organizations and associations.”
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