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ICC Note; Here is more info on the boys who destroyed a Bible

Lessons in ‘hate’ led to Bible abuse

Cameron Stewart

FOR two days, tensions had been simmering in the school camp at Lake Duwar .

12/7/06 Australia (The Australian) The Muslim boys from the East Preston Islamic College had fallen out with the camp staff from the Young Men’s Christian Association.

“We had a few discipline problems,” admits the YMCA’s Greg Mason, who ran the three-day camp.

But nothing could justify what happened next.

At around midnight on the last night of the camp – on Tuesday last week – five boys crept out of their cabin, one of them clutching a Bible.

According to a school report of the incident, 13-year-old Ibrahim threw the Bible on the ground and urinated on it. He then tore some pages and set fire to them. Then he spat on it. Ramsee, 15, also tore out some pages and set fire to them. Zubair, 13, pretended to smoke a few pages, but claimed later to have tried to put out the fire. They then sneaked back to their beds, no one else the wiser.

The next morning a cleaner found the desecrated Bible on the ground and handed it to Mason, who then presented it to the three teachers from the college at the camp.

“Greg told me, ‘I have found this Bible – I don’t know if the Bible means anything to you,’ teacher Hussein Hassan told The Australian.

“I said, ‘I beg your pardon, the Bible means a lot to my religion’.”

Hassan gathered up the boys and gave them a spray. “I told them that whoever is involved they would suffer the consequences and this is disrespectful to our religion and to other religions.”

He then rang college Principal Shaheem Doutie. Doutie, a South African Muslim, realized the gravity of the situation and the ramification for the school in Melbourne ‘s northern suburbs. “I immediately ordered them back from camp and gathered them in the school hall and then the story came out,” Doutie said.

While the boys’ parents have refused requests from the school to discuss the incident and the boys are not talking about it any more, Doutie does not believe it was a carefully thought out protest. Rather, he believes it was an “ignorant” act from “illiterate” boys who did not understand the significance of what they were doing.

Doutie expelled Ibrahim and Ramsee and suspended Zubair. He then called in the school’s imam, Oman Haouli, to speak to the group that went to the camp. “I asked the imam to talk to them about the importance of the Bible to the Islamic religion to make sure it never happens again,” he said.

“Clearly some of the boys did not know the importance of the Bible. I think it was ignorance combined with naughtiness.”

Imam Haouli, who spoke to the boys last Friday, said his lesson to the group was “to respect their neighbors and respect all religions”.

The matter might have ended there, except that 22 of the 65 teachers at the school wanted apologies from the college as well as from the boys and their parents. In their petition, signed by Muslim and non-Muslim teachers, the teachers say “the incident implies a deep hatred inculcated in the students towards the Christian/non-Muslim teachers”. They also referred to “previous incidents” of hostility from students to the non-Muslim teachers – numbering about 30 – at the school.

Many say that hardline Muslim parents have bred hardline Muslim students and that Islamic schools cannot be held responsible for the radicalization of the young. Others say that is a cop-out. Several teachers are known to be concerned that some fundamentalist colleagues – Salafists – exert a powerful influence at EPIC.

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