First Islamic school in Flanders opens in September

First Islamic school in Flanders opens in September

On 1 September, the first Islamic school in Flanders, Selam College, will open its doors in Genk in the province of Limburg. In 2018, it was announced that the Belgian Islamic Federation (BIF) had bought the former Syntra buildings in Winterslag (Genk) to set up a school there. The BIF is linked to the Turkish-Islamic movement Milli-Görüs, which the Belgian State Security Service classified as very conservative but non-violent, with members mainly supporting Turkish president Erdogan.

It is unclear to what extent the pedagogical project will be based on Islam or religion, as the founders of the school did not want to respond to queries of Het Nieuwsblad on Tuesday. The official recognition for the school in Genk was not requested by the BIF, but by a new non-profit organisation: Lectio.

Zuhal Demir (N-VA), a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, wants to investigate the new non-profit. "I know there is freedom of education, but I think it is a bad thing for people to lock themselves up in their own communities," she said to Het Nieuwsblad. "We must investigate all ways of stopping this. I want to know who those people behind the school are and how they are funded. We must prevent children from becoming indoctrinated," she added.

The education inspectorate has until the end of August to investigate whether the school meets all the necessary conditions. If it does, the school will receive provisional recognition until six months later, when the inspection will come by again for final approval.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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