An Islamic school in the Flemish city of Genk will appeal an accreditation refusal based on constitutional grounds which prevented it from opening on the first day of school.
The Flemish minister of education, Hilde Crevits, said Genk’s Selam College did not meet “a number of conditions,” as it announced on Friday that it would not grant it provisional recognition.
The education ministry cited a report by Flanders’ Education Inspectorate which found that the school did not respect the Belgian Constitution or international treaties, in particular in regards to human and children’s rights.
The lack of recognition prevents the school from awarding diplomas and receiving subsidies, and the school’s board announced at the weekend that it would not open up for the time being, according to VRT.
In an online statement, the school said it would appeal the education ministry’s decision, which it denounced as “unconstitutional.”
“In our opinion, the annulment of a right guaranteed by the Constitution, based on a subjectively interpreted ‘risk of extremism’ and vague, unspecified ‘ideology contrary to the principles of human rights (…)’ is unconstitutional,” the statement reads.
The arrival of the school in the city had prompted local politician Zuhal Demir, member of the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA), to raise concerns about the school board’s alleged links with Millî Görüş, a conservative Islamic organisation in Europe which has strong ties with Turkey, according to VRT.
A meeting organised with the school board in April saw Demir call on the Education Inspectorate to carry out the inspection which led to the education ministry’s recent decision.
In a separate statement, the school said that it had initially seen the meting with Demir as an “opportunity to discard prejudices,” but lamented its outcome, adding that they remained open to engaging in dialogue.
Genk mayor Wim Dries called on parents of students enrolled in Selam College to fall back on other schools in Genk where there is still room, the outlet reports.