Source: The New York Times
BRADFORD, England — At the Jamia Mosque on Victor Street in this racially and religiously tense town, Idris Watts, a teacher and convert to Islam, tackled a seemingly mundane subject with a dozen teenage boys: why it is better to have a job than to be unemployed.
“The prophet said you should learn a trade,” Mr. Watts told the students arrayed in a semicircle before him. “What do you think he means by that?”
“If you get a trade it’s good because then you can pass it on,” said Safraan Mahmood, 15.
“You feel better when you’re standing on your own feet,” offered Ossama Hussain, 14.
The back and forth represented something new in Britain’s mosques: a government-financed effort to teach basic citizenship issues in a special curriculum intended to reach students who might be vulnerable to Islamic extremism.
In the long haul, the British government hopes that such civics classes, which use the Koran to answer questions about daily life, will replace the often tedious and sometimes hard-core religious lessons taught in many mosques across the land. Often, these lessons emphasize rote learning of the Koran and are taught by imams who were born in Pakistan and speak little English and have little contact with British society.