'Islamophobic' Sandton school apologises

2016-07-01 14:33
The letter sent to parents of pupils at The King's School. (Photo supplied)

The letter sent to parents of pupils at The King's School. (Photo supplied)

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Johannesburg - A prominent Christian school in Sandton that came under fire for comments that have been widely regarded as Islamophobic in a letter to parents comparing Islam and Christianity has "unreservedly" apologised.

The King's School in Linbro Park on Wednesday came under scrutiny after activist Yusuf Abramjee wrote to the school principal, MEC for education and CRL Rights Commission, questioning the schools head of student affairs, Bob Fuller's correspondence to parents on June 20.  

In a letter, Fuller on Friday apologised for any misrepresentation of Islam in his letter.

Fuller went on to say that he believed Christians have every right to pray for the salvation of those of other faiths.

He continued: "…But in the same way, I believe that people of other faiths have every right to pray for the conversion of Christians to their system of beliefs, should they feel that is necessary.

“However, I realise that the way in which I expressed these ideas may have been insensitive. As Christians, our faith requires us to treat all people of all faiths with respect and dignity. If my words did not reflect this, I apologise."

A relationship of mutual benefit

Fuller added that the purpose of his letter was to encourage the community of The King's School Linbro Park to "pray for salvation" when they heard a nearby Imam calling for Muslims to pray.

"The spirit behind the letter was one of compassion for individuals, and my prayer is that as Christians, we will continue to engage in a positive way with people of all faiths and in a way that will build bridges and not create divisions. Once again, if I was unsuccessful in expressing this understanding, I apologise."

School principal Maarten Geerlings also expressed regret saying he "unreservedly apologised" to "our Muslim brothers and sisters".

"It is my sincere wish that this unfortunate incident will be the starting point of a relationship of mutual benefit between the school and our Muslim neighbours."

'Vast difference between Muslim and Christian prayers'

In his correspondence to parents, Fuller had outlined how a Muslim businessman had built a nearby mosque.

"It was recently finished, and every day around 1:00 we hear the voice of the Imam calling all faithful Muslims to prayer with the mournful strains of his song broadcast via loudspeaker throughout our suburb."

Dept to investigate matter

Fuller went on to say that as he listens, 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!"

The Gauteng Education Department said they would investigate the matter.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  education  |  religion

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