An offbeat “religion lesson” was taught at the Bjurbäck school situated in the south of Sweden, according to Samhallsnytt outlet. An outraged parent said pupils were told to face the Kaaba and knee on prayer mats, whereas the whole class was divided by gender, with girls forced to the back of the room.
His daughters “did not even want to be there because they could not understand a word of what the teacher read from the Koran in Arabic,” the man called Markus revealed. After the “prayer,” the pupils “would dance to Arabic music and eat Arabic cake” in something used to replicate Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim festivities marking the end of compulsory fasting.
Local authorities confirmed the report, with an education official in Emmaboda – a serene southern county where the school is located – telling the outlet that the class did take place.
When confronted by angry parents, the school management defended the stunt, referring to it as a “role play.” But the awkward explanation didn’t sit well with Markus who wants the school to apologize and its principal to be suspended.
“Calling this a role play is not OK as it hits me as a parent,” he told the paper. “It’s me, not the school, that raises my children … they go there to learn things that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
The story sparked uproar on social media.
“Of course, the continuation of it will be Muslim students learning the Lord’s Prayer and attending a Catholic mass,” one person suggested.
“Forcing minors into submission is disastrous. One should choose a religion on their own,” another one wrote.
However, the Emmaboda municipality tried to cool down tempers, saying that, while “his lesson was about Islam and Muslim rituals and traditions,” there are other classes teaching about other world religions.
The class in question involved “so-called role-play pedagogy where the students have different roles in order to gain a better understanding” of the subject, it explained. During the lesson, no student expressed concern or felt insecure, the authorities said, adding that taking part in the “role play” wasn’t compulsory.
A similar scandal broke out in neighboring Denmark this summer, when a boy of African descent was filmed teaching his third-grade classmates a daily prayer ritual, with the exercise ending with the class kneeling and chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Allah the great). The school, however, defended the teaching methods used to integrate children of different cultures.
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