Faith schools “cause terrorism”, says prof

Will there be no end to the repetitions of the myth that faith schools are the cause of the problems in Northern Ireland? A professor called David Canter has published a study, based on interviews with 49 convicted terrorists in India, has supposedly established that “spiritual belief and attachment to a particular social group provided the two most important pathways into the world of terror”. The prof also claims that there was “no doubt” that religious segregation led to terrorism in Northern Ireland.

A study based on 49 terrorists in India alone is hardly representative, is it? Many terrorists in India are Marxists, such as the Naxalites, and if we look just outside India we find the Tamil Tigers, who are not religious at all (although their ethnic base is a predominantly Hindu population) yet have been known to engage in suicide bombings. One presumes that many of Canter’s terrorists were Kashmiris; surely the political situation in Kashmir is what actually made the difference for these people between having a spiritual belief and a group attachment and being terrorists. The Northern Ireland situation was caused by the British settling Scottish Protestants in the region and, later, the establishment of a mini-state for them to dominate, and religious segregation has, by all accounts, got worse as the Troubles have wound down. I do hope no public money was wasted on this pointless study.

Meanwhile, in the Guardian’s letters today, Cristina Odone on the positive effects of Muslim schools on girls:

As I discovered in the course of researching In Bad Faith, published by the Centre for Policy Studies, faith schools in the state sector sharply increase the chances that low-income Muslim parents keep their daughters in schools. They would otherwise withdraw their girls, once they reach puberty, from what they regard as the dangerous playground culture of sex and violence found in secular state schools. The number of Muslim girls from faith state schools who go on to higher education is more than twice that of Muslim girls from secular schools.

Critics who accuse Muslim schools of breeding terrorists should ask themselves whether it is better to keep these schools within the state system, where they must adhere to the national curriculum, undergo regular Ofsted inspections and obey a range of government regulations; or lock them out, which frees them from any accountability to the state.

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