Our mission is to create a generation of talented, educated scholars. Scholars who understand the Islamic way of life from its most authentic sources in accordance with Islam’s own intellectual heritage; whilst reflecting the atmosphere and society they are from with a high level of awareness and appropriate academic knowledge so they may thereby benefit the local community and enrich the wider society that we are in.
Official Statement of Darul Uloom Islamic High School regarding the Channel 4 Dispatches Programme
Our official school policy promotes tolerance and appreciation of other religions. We do not tolerate hate speech. Our ethos is for our students to be full and active participants of British society. We believe students should be inspired by their Islamic beliefs to promote understanding between faiths and between people of all backgrounds.
By repeatedly replaying approximately five minutes of footage, taken from nearly two years of undercover reporting, Channel 4 has attempted to portray the school in a light completely contrary to its ethos. We feel that such a lengthy period of undercover reporting in any institution would uncover incidents for which disciplinary steps had to be taken, or that would appear controversial if taken out of their proper contexts.
Nevertheless, we would like to state that we will be carrying a full and comprehensive investigation into all the matters arising out of this programme, and where necessary we will take proper action.
We feel that it is especially unfair to attempt to represent any organisation using the statements of individuals for which immediate disciplinary steps had been taken. Rather, the fact that disciplinary action had been take should be sufficient proof that such statements are completely incompatible to the ethos of the organisation.
For example, the derogatory statements regarding Hindus, which was a major focus of the programme, were made by a student whom we expelled very soon after the incident, well before we had any knowledge of the surreptitious recordings. Furthermore, he was enrolled with the school for less than a year, before we felt we had to take such strong displinary action. The fact that the producers were fully aware that this matter had been dealt with thoroughly, demonstrated their ill-intent. We are concerned that the truth has been distorted in some places. Commentary is added in one speech, to create the grossly false impression that hate for non-muslims was being preached. The speech was referring to muslims, and on no account, hatred of any person was being taught.
We make a clear distinction between hate for sins, and hate for the perpetrator of those sins. Students are taught that hate for the perpetrator of any sin is completely forbidden, and also to protect themselves from the increasingly widespread societal ills such as drugs, anti-social yobbish behaviour, gang-culture, promiscuity. They are taught to abhor all crimes and sins, but to have compassion and good hope for the person who commits such crimes and sins.
Teaching children to preserve their Islamic identity, values, and appearance, and non-adoption of harmful aspects of society, does not in any way equate to teaching of hate, intolerance, and separation from wider society. On the contrary, the preservation of one’s Islamic identity and values enhances one’s ability to interact with and contribute beneficially to the wider society, and to treat all human beings, irrespective of beliefs, with extra compassion and kindness.
This is not some abstract theory, but proven concretely by the fact that our former students are fully integrated into society, contributing to the social, economic, and intellectual development of British society.
Given the tone and tenure of the allegations, we are very concerned that the programme has placed our students’ safety at risk. Even before the broadcast of the programme, we had started receiving a barrage of hate calls and mails, threatening us with the most profane language. To that end, we have decided to bring forward our half-term week.
Darul Uloom feels that the recent Dispatches programme on Monday 14th February was not only unfair towards the school but also put our students at undue risk with surreptitious filming. The programme attempted to highlight issues which were already dealt with by our own internal procedures, PRIOR to us having the knowledge that we were being secretly filmed. The film thus gives the false impression that we tolerate such actions.
The programme did not highlight sufficiently our remedial actions and instead used footage from four years ago on a matter which was dealt with at that time. Over a period of two years, our students were secretly filmed, and as a result, the trailer for the programme was released on to YouTube. The programme makers did not ‘blob’ out the faces of the students in the trailer, and many of our students faces were clearly visible. Channel 4 has since removed the 40 second clip. The released footage also led to The Sun (Sat Feb 12th 2011, pg 13) using a still image from the footage of one of our students.
The programme regularly intertwined the two institutions, ours, and the Madrasah in Keighley, and as such homogenised the issues in both institutions together; again, unfair journalism. As a result of this homogenising Darul Uloom has received a heavy volume of calls, emails and visits from the local community and the wider community who have mistaken us for the physical abuse that was reported from the Madrasah in Keighley. Under no circumstance whatsoever, does Darul Uloom condone any form of physical abuse at all.
As well as misrepresenting the way our institution operates and our procedures to ensure that we teach a varied and tolerant curriculum, our students were and have been put at an undue risk. The police have informed us that they are deploying extra officers in the area as a precaution as a direct result of the programme. We have no alternative than to log an official complaint to Ofcom, the independent regulators for UK communications industries.
Comments from local councillor, faith groups and community
“Dr ASM Abdur Rahim, I am writing to support you and your school vis a vis hardcash productions. I have lived in Small Heath ten years and have enjoyed good relations with the Muslim Community here. I trust the integrity of our local Muslim community. I wish you and your school well and will keep you in my prayers. Fraternal greetings”
Father Johnny Rohan
Holy Family Church, Small Heath
“They have gone out of their way to make other faiths feel welcome and I have been invited to the school several times to speak to pupils about Buddhism. As far as I can see, they do everything to promote tolerance and understanding and I am happy to work with them” Birmingham Mail, 14th February 2011
Executive Board, Birmingham Interfaith Council
“I have been to many events at this particular centre. One thing I have noticed is how they involve the whole community including faith leaders from non-muslim faiths. What is key is that the centre does promote inclusion and religious tolerance. It is important to note that they have acted to promote tolerance by expelling the intolerant even before they knew they were being filmed. This demonstrates their sincerity.”
Yardley MP Liberal Democrats