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UK’s Muslim Council Wants Muslims included in History Curriculum - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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UK Education secretary Michael Gove

UK Education secretary Michael Gove

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), one of the UK’s leading Islamic organizations, has launched a campaign to include Islamic contributions to Western civilization in the national history curriculum. A draft proposal for the new curriculum was released in February.

According to the MCB statement obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat, the group was “deeply disappointed that on 7 February 2013 the Department of Education published a draft specification for a revised History curriculum that excludes all reference to Muslims and Islam from the history curriculum that is proposed for English schools.”

The statement called on the Department for Education (DfE) to include what it called a number of key points to its draft proposal: the contribution of Indian Muslim, Hindu and Sikh soldiers to the military effort in both world wars; the preservation and enhancement of ancient Greek and Roman learning by classical Muslim civilization; and finally, Britain’s long history of trade, diplomatic and other relations with Muslim-majority regions.

However, according to Mohammed Amin, vice chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum, the proposals were ignored by the DfE.

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Amin said , “After submitting the document, in October we met with Elizabeth Truss MP, the minster responsible for dealing with the national curriculum. We put our points to her and her civil servants, and we were quite disappointed when the draft curriculum was published on the seventh of February and ignored everything that we had said.”

When asked by Asharq Al-Awsat about the flaws in the draft curriculum, Amin said that “it is very white Anglocentric; the rest of the world gets extremely little coverage, there is very little coverage of non-white, [non-]Anglo-Saxon people in it.”

Amin, who is also a member of the campaign group Curriculum for Cohesion, emphasized that the draft curriculum has “no mention of Muslims or Islam at all … which we regard as unsatisfactory”.

This is no new controversy for the DfE. According to Amin, a version of the new curriculum was leaked a few months before it was officially published. That version did not include a black nurse named Mary Seacole, who was involved in the Crimean War at the same time as Florence Nightingale.

“There was a political outcry. A campaigning organization called Operation Black Vote organized a petition, and magically when the draft was published in February Mary Seacole was included,” Amin added.

According to the MCB’s statement, not recognizing Muslim contributions to history will have an adverse effect on British Muslim children, creating the risk of further alienation. At the same time, non-Muslim children will grow up believing that Muslims have contributed nothing of value to Britain, or indeed human civilization, creating an increased risk that they will acquire anti-Muslim attitudes. Approximately 10% of British school children are Muslim.

The consultation period closes today.