.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hate taught in British Muslim school

From This Is London:
A prestigious Islamic school in London was forced to shred 2,000 textbooks used to poison pupils' minds with lessons of hate, a former teacher claimed yesterday.

Colin Cook, who taught English at the King Fahad Academy for 18 years, told a tribunal how "incompetent" Ofsted inspectors reported that the school's teaching of Islamic studies was "mostly good".

But their report was wildly inaccurate, he said, because pupils as young as five were being taught by rote from Arabic textbooks describing Jews as "monkeys" and Christians as "pigs".

Colin Cook outside the Saudi school which sacked him for misconduct

Mr Cook said that when he exposed the racist teaching, the school's head Dr Sumaya Alyusuf lied on television, insisting that hateful passages had never been taught.

Under public pressure the Academy eventually agreed to destroy 2,000 books but photocopied them first for future use, he told the tribunal.

The school, in Acton, West London, opened in 1985 for the children of Saudi diplomats and is funded and controlled by the Saudi government.

Its 1,250 pupils have included the five children of jailed claw-handed cleric Abu Hamza and those of Abu Qatada, who was said to be Osama Bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe.

Mr Cook, 58, said that when he queried how the preachers could be paying school fees when they were said to be on state benefits, he was told to mind his own business.

Giving evidence to the hearing in Watford, Mr Cook claimed the school was seen as an extension of the Saudi Embassy rather than part of the UK, with Saudi teachers even enjoying diplomatic immunity.

He said some pupils made "inappropriate" remarks about killing Americans and praised the 9/11 attacks.

"When I heard such nonsense I challenged and tried to reason it through with the pupils," he added.

He said that misbehaviour by Saudi pupils was sometimes overlooked.

A school trip to Arsenal Football Club's museum in December 2005 ended in chaos when some King Fahad pupils chanted "Saudi, Saudi, Saudi" and fought with non-Saudi pupils, Mr Cook told the hearing.

"Apparently we were the first school ever to be thrown out of the museum, which was humiliating. None of the Saudi pupils was challenged over their behaviour by management."

Mr Cook, of Feltham, South London, is claiming unfair dismissal, race discrimination and victimisation, which the school denies.

He was earning £35,000 a year and is seeking £135,000 in compensation for lost earnings, injury to feelings and aggravated damages.

The school has vigorously denied encouraging any form of racial hatred. It insists that the offending passages in the books were "misinterpreted".

After Mr Cook's allegations in February last year, Dr Alyusuf went on BBC2's Newsnight and told presenter Jeremy Paxman that she was aware of the books but refused to withdraw them because they had "good chapters that can be used by the teachers".

Mr Cook told the hearing: "Dr Alyusuf simply lied about her knowledge of the contents of the books and tried to pretend that the books were not taught in the school. She failed to repudiate the racist views expressed in the books.

"The truth is she cannot go against the Saudi ministry of education. She is their puppet."

Mr Cook said the Ofsted inspection in March 2006 failed to identify major issues including parental complaints, unqualified teachers and indiscipline.

He added: "The Ofsted report was very inadequate. This is partly due to what the Academy did not tell the inspectors and partly due to, at best, incompetence by Ofsted."

He says he was sacked on trumpedup grounds in 2006 after he blew the whistle on the school for covering up cheating by pupils in a GCSE exam.

"In any normal workplace, an employee would not be sacked for whistle-blowing or indeed treated as a second-class citizen for not being Saudi Arabian," he said.

"However, as the head of human resources put it, 'This is not England. It is Saudi Arabia'."

He said he had to teach 28 lessons a week when Saudi colleagues had between three and 12. He said that when he realised the school was not going to carry out a proper inquiry into the alleged GCSE cheating, he took his complaints to exam board Edexcel.

The school claimed Mr Cook failed to observe proper procedure and fired him for gross misconduct.

The hearing continues.