Around 5,000 children at Islamic weekend schools are being taught homophobic and anti-semitic views, it has been claimed.
According to a BBC Panorama investigation to be screened tonight, the Sharia law classes use textbooks which tell children that the penalty for gay sex is execution, that “Zionists” are plotting to take over the world for the Jews and the correct way to cut off the hands and feet of convicted thieves.
One book for six-year-olds asks children what happens to someone who does not believe in Islam. The answer, according to the programme, is “hellfire”.
There are said to be around 40 weekend schools, which are run under the banner of Saudi Students Clubs and Schools in the UK and Ireland. They teach the Saudi national curriculum and, as they are weekend schools, are not inspected by Ofsted.
According to the Daily Mail, one textbook for 15-year-olds identified by the programme says: “For thieves their hands will be cut off for a first offence, and their foot for a subsequent offence.”
Diagrams showing where cuts should be made accompany the text, which says: : “The specified punishment of the thief is cutting off his right hand at the wrist. Then it is cauterised to prevent him from bleeding to death.”
Gay sex is punished by execution, the schools allegedly teach. However, children are told that clerics are said to differ in whether the guilty person should be stoned, thrown off a cliff or burnt.
Other textbooks are said to ask students to list the “reprehensible” qualities of Jews and claim that Jews are transformed into pigs and monkeys.
Michael Gove, the education secretary, told Panorama: “Saudi Arabia is a sovereign country. I have no desire or wish to intervene in the decisions that the Saudi government makes in its own education system. But I’m clear that we cannot have antisemitic material of any kind being used in English schools.”
The Saudi ambassador to the UK said it had nothing to do with the schools and condemned the “dangerously deceptive and misleading” use of historical texts on Jews.
The Saudi embassy told Panorama: “Any tutoring activities that may have taken place among any other group of Muslims in the United Kingdom are absolutely individual to that group and not affiliated to or endorsed by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia.”