Tuesday 21 March 2023

Inspectors find no evidence of hard-line Islam at Amsterdam school

The Cornelius Haga Lyceum in Amsterdam’s port area. Photo: DutchNews.nl

Senior staff at Amsterdam’s Islamic secondary school have been involved in financial misconduct but there is no hard evidence that the school is indoctrinating pupils in the fundamentalist form of Islam know as ‘Salafism’, according to a report by school inspectors.

The report has not been officially published and the Cornelius Haga Lyceum is seeking an injunction against the Dutch state to block publication but it has been widely leaked to the media.

The inspectors criticism focuses on three areas: the financial strategy, the fact that the school does not sufficiently distance itself from people with a controversial reputation, and the provocative behaviour of director Soner Atasoy, the Volkskrant said on Tuesday.

In addition, the inspectors say they have no confidence that order can be restored under the current leadership.

The NRC, however, says the report is noteworthy because inspectors have been unable to find ‘anti-democratic tendencies’, despite claims by the AIVD security service earlier this year that school is being influenced by ‘undemocratic groups’.

That briefing led the city’s mayor Femke Halsema to freeze all funding to the school until the entire board resign.


In addition, two experts shown the report by the NRC said that the inspectors appeared to be concerned about issues which did not fall under their remit, such as the finances.

And Tilburg education law professor Paul Zoontjes told the paper the report’s conclusions are ‘very weak’ and that the report would appear to be aimed at helping the minister [education minister Arie Slob] politically.

The Cornelius Haga Lyceum opened its doors in 2017, despite efforts by both the city council and the education ministry to prevent it from opening.

The then education minister Sander Dekker had refused to allocate funding for the school, because a former board member was alleged to have shown support for IS on Facebook. Earlier this year, Slob also threatened to withdraw funding.

The injunction will be heard on Thursday.

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