Prominent Gauteng Christian school under fire for 'Islamophobia'

Johannesburg – A prominent Christian school in Sandton has come under fire for being “Islamophobic” and anti-Islam.

The King’s School in Linbro Park was accused of insulting Muslims after activist Yusuf Abramjee wrote to the school principal, the Education MEC and CRL Rights Commission questioning the school's head of student affairs' correspondence to parents on June 20.  

In his correspondence to parents, he outlines how a Muslim businessman had built a nearby mosque.

He also urged parents to "pray for Muslims to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ" and to encourage their children to do the same.

 “[The mosque] was recently finished, and every day around 1:00 (sic) we hear the voice of the Imam calling all faithful Muslims to prayer with the mournful stains of his song broadcast via loudspeaker throughout our suburb.”

He went on to say that as he listened, he “can’t help but think of the vast difference between Muslim and Christian prayers”.

“Muslims pray in the hope that it might earn them salvation, while Christians can pray anywhere at any time in any words we may choose with the assurance that every word is heard because of our personal relationship with God.”

He concluded saying, “I could go on, but I think you get my point. I am actually grateful for this daily reminder to pray for Muslims to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and to intercede for Christian missionaries, some of whom I know personally, who are daily reaching out to Muslims – often at the risk of their lives.

“Especially with Ramadan happening 11 July through 9 August, I invite you to do the same. And why not encourage your children to also participate? Our prayers can and do make a difference!”

Shock and disgust

Abramjee in his letter said he was shocked and saddened by the comments made about Muslims.

“This is offensive and it promotes racial hatred and intolerance. Furthermore, it is Islamophobic. The writer also has the dates of Ramadaan wrong and his description of the ’Azaan’ (call to prayer).”

Abramjee said the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

“Our Constitution guarantees us freedom of religion. Let me also remind the writer that with free speech comes responsibility. One cannot promote hatred and religious intolerance and insult other religions. His interpretation of Islam is also wrong.”

School not ready to respond

Abramjee called for the “immediate withdrawal” of the letter and an unreserved apology to the Muslim community and others who were offended.

“You will see the outcry on social media also. Failing to retract and apologise unreservedly within 48 hours will force me to consider other options and reserve my rights.”

In his response to Abramjee, principal Maarten Geerlings said he took note of the concern.

“Since it is school holidays the earliest the school executive can meet to discuss the matter is on Monday. We will issue a statement after the meeting.”

Provincial dept condemns letter

Responding to queries from News24, the Gauteng Education Department said it strongly condemned the school's behaviour.

“[The] district has been requested to investigate the matter. We would like to remind everyone that the department embraces all religions in our schools.”

The department added that it advocates religious tolerance and the importance of it.

“We always insist that our educators be aware of how important religion is in communities and also educate learners about different religions, including significant dates as outlined in the calendar. Religious education should contribute to creating an integrated and informed community that affirms unity in diversity.”

It added:“No religious group should be dominant over or suppress others. Schools must ensure and protect the equal rights of all learners and also appreciate their right to have their religious views recognised and respected.”

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