Mosque lessons to tackle extremism

Date published: 05 December 2008

OLDHAM’S mosque schools will pilot new citizenship classes aimed at dispelling the myth there is any conflict between being a good Muslim and being British.

Oldham, along with Rochdale and five other areas, will take part in new citizenship lessons drawing on similarities rather than differences between people.

The scheme will be taught in after-school madrassahs, or mosque supplementary schools, as part of a drive to focus on shared values.

Through class discussion, role play and written exercises, the children, aged seven to 14, are to learn the importance of tolerance and respect, how to be better neighbours, the importance of volunteering and how to play an active part in their schools and communities.

Communities Minister Sadiq Khan said: “Engaging all young people in society and developing their understanding of what it is to be a citizen is crucial to creating a diverse but cohesive country.

“Improving young Muslims understanding of Islam and its compatibility with wider shared values through their mosque supplementary schools has been identified by the British Muslim community as an important way of building resilience to extremist ideologies. Through effective early citizenship education we can undermine the belief that there is a conflict between being British and Muslim and challenge misguided and misinterpreted violent and extreme messages.”

The topics explored aim to reinforce to young Muslims the teachings of Islam, that they can be Muslims and citizens of the country where they live and that there is no contradiction between being British and being Muslim.

Schools Minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry said: “Every mainstream school now teaches its students the Citizenship curriculum and these excellent lesson materials will allow madrassahs and mosque schools to explore the same issues further.”