In an opinion piece, Imam Mohammad Elsadi argues that the provision of Islamic education for Muslim students attending state schools is a constitutional right as “the Maltese Constitution ensuring freedom of worship, equality among Maltese citizens and bans all kinds of discrimination based on faith, colour or race.”
As such, Mr Elsadi, who heads Malta’s Muslim community, says that “Maltese Muslim students attending state schools have the right to be taught Islam, just as Catholic students have the right to learn Christianity.
“It is a human right for parents to choose the education they want for their children. We believe that the teaching of Islam should be introduced in state schools during school hours to target and benefit most of the Muslim students who attend these schools.”
Moreover, he argues that the teaching Islam after school hours, as has been suggested, “will only benefit a very small percentage of Muslim students. Besides, it will be unjust and discriminatory to provide Islamic education only after school hours.”
“We believe that it is in the interests of the Maltese people to endorse the introduction of Islamic education in state schools in accordance with the Maltese education system because it will ensure the teaching of the true, peaceful and moderate Islam, keep at bay any extremist teachings that lead to hatred, violence and radicalism and enhance integration, tolerance, respect and social peace. It will give the Muslim students a Maltese identity and promote in them a sense of belonging to and loyalty towards the country. Certainly, it will contribute to preparing Maltese Muslim citizens who will dedicate their service for the welfare and development of the country.”
If the government fails to teach Muslim children, he argues, “I am afraid that someone else will fill this gap and teach them the opposite, which will cause harm and loss for everyone.
“By providing an Islamic education, the Maltese government is not going to initiate an unprecedented act. Already, many state schools in Europe and certain Arab and Muslim countries, as well as in other parts of the world, are offering such an important spiritual service.
As far as Sharia is concerned, he says, “To those who fear that sharia will be taught if Islamic education is introduced, I say do not worry, the Education Ministry will select the Islamic text books and will certainly ensure that nothing contradicts the human rights, the democratic system and the European values that will be taught.”
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