UK Prime Minister Cameron Pledges to Close Islamic Schools That Teach Conspiracy Theories About Jews
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron vowed on Wednesday to shut down madrassas, or Islamic primary schools, which teach their students intolerance and spread antisemitism.
During a comprehensive policy speech at the Conservative Party conference five months into his second premiership, Cameron stressed the right of religious communities to private education as part of a broader, “multi-racial” British society.
“Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with children learning about their faith, whether it’s at madrassas, Sunday schools or Jewish yeshivas,” he said. “But in some madrassas we’ve got children being taught that they shouldn’t mix with people of other religions; being beaten; swallowing conspiracy theories about Jewish people.”
“These children should be having their minds opened, their horizons broadened — not having their heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate. So I can announce this today: If an institution is teaching children intensively, then whatever its religion, we will, like any other school, make it register so it can be inspected,” he said.
“And be in no doubt: if you are teaching intolerance, we will shut you down,” he said.
Cameron — who, according to some polls, is supported by the majority of Britain’s Jews — made tackling antisemitism a priority in the campaign that led him to a strong victory in May’s general election, at one point telling The Atlantic that he would be “heartbroken” if “people in the Jewish community thought that Britain was no longer a safe place for them.”
Several reports have indicated a rising trend of antisemitism in Europe, both from right-wing nationalists — such as the widely popular Jobbik Party in Hungary — and disenfranchised and impoverished Muslim immigrants living in slum neighborhoods in France, Germany and the U.K., where 318 antisemitic attacks were reported in 2014.
The European Commission last week decided to designate coordinators for antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred in a new effort to combat the growing intolerance across the European continent.