Law to protect the young must cover madrassas as well

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui
Commentary The Times
10 December 2008

Child protection legislation may as well not exist for Muslims who operate and teach at some of Britain’s 1,600 or so madrassas, or Islamic schools. For such people, who either consciously flout the law or are completely ignorant of it, beating children is not a form of abuse but a method of enforcing discipline.

It may surprise many people to find that, unlike schools and other institutions dealing with children, madrassas are not subject to government regulation. The situation is compounded as even many mosque-run madrassas are not registered with anyone.

A recent survey by the Charity Commission found that 11per cent of mosques in London were unregistered. Travel north to the Midlands and that figure mushrooms to 70 per cent. But even the registration of mosques is limited in the type of protection that it offers children, because, while registration ensures random checks by the commission, it does not ensure the regulation of madrassas within the mosques.

Only two years ago my organisation, the Muslim Parliament, published a report to highlight the problem of child abuse in madrassas, including the mentality that holds such abuse as a taboo subject that is best kept quiet. We said then that too many members of the community seemed more interested in protecting it from embarrassment than in ensuring the wellbeing of innocent and voiceless children.

The report highlighted that up to 40 per cent of madrassas exclude uncooperative pupils, and its estimate of 15-20 cases a year of sexual abuse was considered an understatement. Those parents whose children are abused remain silent for fear of being ostracised by their community or stigmatised by mainstream Britain.

Many local safeguarding children boards have begun to engage the faith and voluntary sector and have organised workshops and training courses in their respective areas. However, it seems that these activities have been attended by only a handful of mosque and madrassa organisations.

In the absence of a national register of mosques and madrassas, it is difficult to say what percentage of them have taken advantage of these provisions and have gone on to put in place child protection policy and procedures in their own madrassas. I am not sure how many madrassas have even done Criminal Record Bureau checks on staff who routinely deal with children.

Sadly for the 200,000 children in Britain who attend madrassas, however, the situation will not improve and may even get worse unless new laws are introduced to ensure that every madrassa is regulated by a government body. Such laws could force the closure of madrassas in breach of the Child Protection Act. Until then, children who attend madrassas, whether those connected to mosques or one of the many makeshift varieties operating from people’s homes, will remain at significant risk of physical and sexual harm.

– Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui is head of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain.

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More from the “Palestinian Solidarity” file Lifeline cut as Palestinians vacate Israeli hospitals

By Dina Kraft
Feb. 24, 2009. (Brian Hendler) JERUSALEM (JTA) — Pediatric oncologist Michael Weintraub of Hadassah Hospital recently found himself in the unenviable position of turning away ailing Palestinian children after the Palestinian Authority decided to halt payment for their treatment.

Originally citing anger over the war in Gaza and a desire to treat Palestinians in PA hospitals, the Palestinian Authority stopped funding treatment for the majority of Palestinians in Israeli hospitals as of Feb. 1, abruptly cutting off what in some cases is literally a lifeline.

“People could die in the next few weeks” if they do not receive proper treatment, said Weintraub, director of pediatric hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplantation at Hadassah. “Patients were denied coverage from one day to the next. If you stop cancer therapy for a month or two, the risk of relapse and death increases every day.”

For many years, a significant number of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza have come to Israeli hospitals for medical care, often for sophisticated tests or life-saving treatments not available at Palestinian hospitals, such as bone marrow transplants or robotic surgery.

The decision to drastically reduce the number of Palestinians entering Israel for treatment came from the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry for reasons that appear to be both economic — the expense of medical treatment is considerable for the Palestinian Authority — and political.
(HH here: so the PA saves two ways! They don’t have to pay for the medical care and when the people die they can blame Israel for “refusing” to treat the patients “because they are mere Palestinians”)

But P.A. Health Minister Fathi Abu Moghli said that despite the financial strain of paying for health care in Israel and other countries like Jordan and Egypt, the decision to reduce the overall number of patients was made as part of a new plan to improve the Palestinian health care system.

It was the Hamas regime in Gaza that first said it would not send its wounded to Israel for treatment in the wake of Israel’s operation in Gaza. That stance was then adopted by the Palestinian Authority, which is led by the more moderate Fatah faction, and was extended to include most Palestinians seeking care at Israeli hospitals.

Another apparent casualty of the new P.A. policy is the practice of sending Palestinian doctors to train at Israeli hospitals. Over the years, a strong professional network has developed between Palestinian and Israeli physicians because of the practice, helping ease the process of referrals. That could fall apart now.

“For 97 years we have talked about people with heart disease and cancer, not Arabs and Jews, and that is what we want to continue doing,” she said of Hadassah’s long-standing approach to medical treatment here. “It’s an unfolding story. The hospital will do what it can to continue providing services.”

Palestinians pay the same state-subsidized rates as do Israeli patients. For additional help, Hadassah has philanthropic funds that help cover some extra costs at their facilities, and the Peres Center for Peace has a program that refers some 1,000 Palestinian children to Israel each year for either consultations or surgery. In cases of cancer, the center has split hospital fees with the Palestinian Authority.


“It’s a very grave situation because people who are in the middle of receiving treatments that often do not exist in the West Bank and Gaza” will receive “a death sentence” if they lack treatment, he said.

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Just what we need one more apologist for evil.

(HH here: you will notice one glaring omission in this “report” from sometimes dhimmi BBC. WHY would this or that house be suddenly a target of the Israeli Air Force? Are we to believe that the Israelis just pick a building at random, call to warn the occupants, then bomb it for no purpose? OR maybe these buildings are arms stores and safe houses of militants? Rockets or mortars may be fired just recently from this house or that. What is noble and likely to gain “praise” from the world in putting your children between your “warriors” and the enemy and HOPING that the enemy will be civilized enough to not just bomb and be damned???? This is the Palestinian version of “non-violence”? “We shall provoke you and plan for your destruction but when you come for us, as any sane person would, we will hide behind our children.”)

Schoolgirls chanting their defiance of Israel were among the crowd that gathered to defend the two-storey home in the town of Beit Lahiya.

Along with the girls had come old men, neighbours and militants.

All of them were ready to defy the Israeli air force. They were ready to put themselves in the line of fire.

But they knew too that a similar human shield tactic had worked a few days earlier.

The Israelis had backed off knowing that to strike would cause large numbers of civilian casualties which would, of course, have played very badly in the court of international opinion.

For years Palestinians have been completely at the mercy of the Israeli air force.

But they clearly believe that now they have found a weakness.

If they know an attack is coming they can probably foil it by massing in the target zone.

The Israelis can no longer expect to limit civilian casualties by calling ahead and clearing people out.

From militant leaders to schoolgirls, Palestinians can unite in confronting their enemy and the passive resistance of the human shields will be admired from around the world.

(HH again: Resistance to WHAT? retaliatory strikes after Gazan initiated assaults? Boys armed with flags trading places with the militants who just fired a rocket???)

The boys on the roofs, armed only with Palestinian flags and facing down war planes, are a David and Goliath image for the modern age.

But nobody should imagine that the likes of Hamas are suddenly being won over wholly to the strategies of pacifism.

If they possessed anti-aircraft guns, they would surely blaze away at the circling planes.

(HH here: this piece is truly worthy of a dose of epikak the way it glories in an evil tactic and avoids any mention of why those “unarmed” kids might be under attack in the first place in that location. Don’t you love how at the end the writer even admits that these “kids” are only prevented from being real killers by the lack of effective weapons!!!!!)

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