The chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque has called for a boycott ofcounter-terrorism programme Prevent after claiming it unfairly targets Muslims and school children.
Future Lord Mayor Muhammad Afzal also branded the Prime Minister an “Islamophobe” over the government strategy, which is designed to identify people at risk of radicalisation.
Prevent has now been extended to include Ofsted inspections of out-of-school education settings including Islamic religious schools (madrassas) – a move the chairman labelled as “racist”.
Mr Afzal, who will become Lord Mayor in May, claimed the “disgraceful” legislation was discriminatory against Muslims and has called on Birmingham’s MPs to stand against it.
During a meeting jointly organised with Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), in Highgate, the councillor said: “I think the Prime Minister is an Islamophobe, he never talks about anything else but Muslim extremism.
“It is ridiculous that the government is saying Muslims are becoming radicalised. David Cameron says 500 people have gone to Syria to become radicalised, but where is the evidence? And out of a population of three million Muslims in the UK, what kind of percentage is that?”
He added: “The government wants to inspect madrassas, which is racist. Ofsted are losing their neutrality and what we’ll find is that madrassas will be closing down under this legislation which is totally ridiculous.
“We should oppose this legislation. Everyone should sign the petition and make individual efforts to resist it and tell your local MP to support us.”
In the last four years, more than 400 children in the West Midlands have been referred through Prevent to the de-radicalisation programme – the highest number of referrals in the country.
Of those referred, 126 were under the age of ten, according to recent figures.
Teacher and SUTR member Danny Rees told the Birmingham Mail:“Prevent is radicalising children. School is meant to be a place where you can say anything but students are reluctant to speak to teachers and teachers are reluctant to speak to each other for fear of being reported.
“We need to allow open debate, we need to give people the courage to step up and talk about it and allow children their right to practice their religion.”