This story is interesting firstly as a glimpse into the world of an Islamic school in the West, but also because it reveals just how differently Europeans and immigrants see the word 'integration'.
To us, it implies being able to live freely as an equal citizen in return for respecting our values. To many immigrants, it simply means biding their time and waiting until they are the majority before doing anything too drastic.
See how this decent but naive lady was treated when she showed the children a model of a traditional Dutch canal house with lights at Christmas - her colleagues chuckled and told her Christianity would 'be done away with'.
Translated with thanks by Islam in Europe:
Orthodox Muslim schools offer no place for other cultures and believers. They thwart integration. Non-Muslim teachers at these schools are treated kindly in all regards, but not as full-fledged colleagues.Source: Parool (Dutch)
This according to teacher Hennie Metsemakers, who worked this year at the As Siddieq school, after it took over two of the three Siba (Foundation of Muslim Elementary Schools in Amsterdam) schools which had been shut down.
She sounded the alarm after district mayor Ahmed Marcouch called to subsidize orthodox movements. According to Metsemakers, democracy is not served by this.
Metsemakers thinks that she and other non-Muslim members of the educational eam at As Siddieq (faithful to the truth) in Zeeburg were subtly excluded.
Metsemakers says that they had to eat separately during breaking and that they weren't greeted in the same way as Muslim teachers. "Not with the world salem, peace, because non-Muslims can't know what peace is. Those who think differently are labeled unbelievers."
Metsemakers meanwhile called in the educational inspection. She was suspended a year and a half ago because she mentioned the customs of other religions in class. Metsemakers, whose annual contract was not extended last year says she drew a time-line on which she put the most important events of a number of religions.
At Christmas time she put up canal house with lights in class (Christmas ornaments) in order to tell about the festival regarding light, without specially talking about Christmas. She was prohibited from doing so. The worst thing, says Metsemakers, is that she was told to tell the children that Christianity will be done away with.
Several years ago several teachers left the school due to an 'exceptionally orthodox attitude of the administration'. An interim director was dismissed.
According to Metsemakers the administration has meanwhile managed to enforce an orthodox nature everywhere, though half of the team consist of non-Muslim teachers.
Metsemakers is careful. She says that after she had time to digest her experiences, she decided to take her story to a greater public.
She started working full of ideals. She says she thought that families who sent their children there showed more cohesion than families who weren't involved. The administration was attentive and nice, but seems to be taking care of an underlying agenda.
She says the school wants to teach children that they shouldn't be friends with unbelievers. "Only Muslims can after all be good people."
Nobody was available for comment at the As Siddeiq school. A coworker says that he thinks Metsemakers is a good colleague, but he's prohibited from speaking. Nobody was reachable at the school administration.