LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s education department is to look at how it can check Islamic weekend schools after the BBC reported it had uncovered more than 40 of them teaching anti-Semitic views and extreme punishment for sodomy and theft.
The BBC said its “Panorama” programme, which will air on Monday evening, had found a network of weekend Islamic schools in Britain were teaching children how to chop off the hands of thieves, that Zionists are trying to take over the world and that sodomy is punishable by death.
Currently the government does not regulate weekend, part-time teaching centres.
The Department for Education said it could not allow anti-Semitic material in English schools and that the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), which inspects schools, was looking into how to monitor the part-time centres.
“Ofsted are doing some work in this area. They’ll be reporting to us shortly about how we can ensure that part-time provision is better registered and better inspected in the future,” the department said in a statement.
Panorama said the centres fell under the umbrella of the Saudi Students’ Schools and Clubs in the UK and Ireland and have been teaching the Saudi national curriculum to about 5,000 children.
It said the schools, which teach children between the ages of 6 and 18, have been using textbooks that contain diagrams showing the Sharia way to cut off the hands and feet of people convicted of theft and that Zionists are plotting to take over the world for Jews.
It said it had obtained a textbook that asked children to list the “reprehensible” qualities of Jews. It also said they were told the punishment for sodomy was death and that there is a difference of opinion on whether this should be by stoning, burning or throwing off a cliff.
The Saudi Students’ Schools and Clubs group could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Saudi Embassy said it would not comment on the Panorama programme until it had seen it, but the BBC said it had received a letter from the Saudi ambassador saying the network of weekend schools had nothing to do with the embassy.
Quilliam, a think-tank that studies radical Islamism, said Saudi Arabia had stopped using the textbooks that Panorama referred to as it took steps to modernise its religious education and that the Saudi government should try to persuade Islamic schools in Britain to stop “hate preaching.”
“It is unfortunate that these so-called Saudi schools in Britain do not seem to have similarly moved with the times. The Saudi authorities need to use their influence to ensure that hate-preaching is fully tackled both at home and abroad,” Quilliam spokesman Talal Rajab said.
Reporting by Karen Foster; Editing by Steve Addison