The Department for Education is investigating "serious allegations" of "extremist practice" at a private Muslim school in Yorkshire after evidence suggested that it is encouraging a radical version of Islam. Allegations include claims that leaflets were handed out which said Jewish people are engaged in a plot to take over the world, women should not go out to work and warned against partaking in British customs.
Around 140 primary school children attend the Islamic Tarbiyah Academy in Dewsbury for an after-school madrasa and full-time courses are also available for adults. The institution's founder and head, Mufti Zubair Dudha, is from the Deobandi sect which espouses an orthodox interpretation of Islam and is thought to control around half of all mosques and madrasas in Britain.
A Sky News investigation found that in one flyer Dudha quoted the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which argues that Jews are involved in a conspiracy for global domination. He also claimed that magazines, music, films, colourful pictures and sports figures are all part of an effort to "poison the thinking and minds" of young Muslims.
Dudha wrote: "The various forms of distractions have been successful to considerable extent in achieving their objectives." Other brochures alleged that mixed-sex organisations are wicked and instructed women to be fully covered before leaving the house. It also advocated a ban on watching television and a chapter on jihad instructed Muslims to be prepared to "expand...even life" in order to pave the way for a world "according to Allah's just order."
Home Affairs Select Committee Chairman Keith Vaz said: "After what we have seen in Paris and in Brussels and the way in which the Muslim community has come out so strongly in favour of peace and tolerance, I think these kinds of leaflets serve no purpose but to divide in a poisonous and totally reckless way."
Dudha has also produced pamphlets which speak out against terrorism and promote non-violence. In a statement, he said: "It saddens me greatly that certain extracts from our publications have been taken and misrepresented to link the Academy with extremism." Dudha added: "We fully believe in the importance and need of integration whilst being able to practise our faith."
A school statement said: "Rather than promoting extreme views, the Islamic Tarbiyah Academy has and will continue to work within the community, along with others, including the local authorities, to try and counter extremism." It added: "Any suggestions to the contrary are unfounded to say the least."
The Department for Education announced that a probe is underway. It said: "These serious allegations are under investigation. While it would be inappropriate to comment on the specific investigations of these institutions, we are clear that extremism has no place in our society and we are determined to protect children from it."
The department added: "Where evidence of extremist practice is found we will take swift and direct action, working in conjunction with the police."