I well remember, during a previous life as a schoolteacher (see here and here) my first ever experience with a Muslim student. Despite being the only single freckle of brown in the otherwise pasty, albino-like face of her entire all-white year group, she appeared to expect the entire curriculum to revolve around her, like electrons around a nucleus. Having spotted a wall-display about Animal Farm in an adjoining English classroom, she marched up to my desk on the first day of the new term in September and arrogantly informed me – it was certainly not phrased as a request – that we would absolutely not be reading any books that contained pigs from hereon in, as it was against the tenets of her blessed religion. This was in a Catholic faith-school, by the way.
I told her none of the books our class would be reading that term contained pigs anyway, but, if they had done, then that was just a civilisational sausage she was going to have to swallow.
Lessons in Dictation
Another educationalist whom I imagine treats such request with similar disdain is Katharine Birbalsingh, the famously authoritarian headmistress of Michaela Community School, located in what is often described as “a deprived and highly diverse area” of London – which, these days, could be almost any of them.
Michaela School has attracted controversy recently due to banning public prayer rituals after a number of Muslim children began ostentatiously bowing down towards Mecca on prayer mats in the playground during lunch-hour breaktimes last year. This prohibition led the teenage girl who had instigated the prayer sessions to take the school to court for religious discrimination, an action ultimately funded by you, the dhimmified tax-payer, via legal aid – or jizya tax, if you prefer. This very same highly religious teen, it was reported, had also been suspended for allegedly threatening to stab someone with a knife: doubtless another blow against the girl’s precious human rights.
According to her lawyer, this allegedly discriminatory treatment had “fundamentally changed how she feels as a Muslim in this country”. Yes. For once, she hadn’t just been supinely pandered to. Despite the loud claims of religious discrimination, it turned out the prayer ban actually applied not only to Muslims, but to kids of all faiths, even Satanists. If Michaela School ‘discriminated’ against its pupils, then it discriminated against all of them on a fundamentally equal basis – which, as we shall see, is actually something of a double-edged sword.
In court, the school’s lawyer, Jason Coppel KC, furthermore argued that “peer pressure” was being placed on other Muslim pupils, who make up a large proportion of the school’s intake, to conform and begin praying during break-times too. This, he said, was feared likely to cause “unacceptable segregation or division” between not only the Muslim and non-Muslim pupils, but also between the praying and non-praying elements of the Muslim student body alike.