Tuesday 19 November 2019

Minister threatens to halt Islamic school’s funding if no new head is appointed

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

Education minister Arie Slob has given Amsterdam’s only Islamic secondary school two days to appoint an acceptable interim director or have its funding halted in December.

The Cornelius Haga Lyceum was due to hand over control to an interim chief before Tuesday but said its candidate, who was acceptable to school inspectors, could not be formally installed because he is not Muslim.

The school’s statutes will have to be amended to make his appointment possible and that may take several weeks, the school’s board told the Volkskrant.

Slob said in September that the entire board must step down, or the government will halt all funding. It extremely rare for a government minister to intervene directly in a school.

Indoctrination

The school, in Amsterdam’s western docks, has been at the centre of a major row about business malpractice and fundamentalist indoctrination. In July school inspectors published a report which said the school’s finances were not being properly managed and that money for education was being used for other purposes.

The Haga Lyceum has also been the focus of long-running controversy about its connections with radical Islamic preachers and earlier this year, the AIVD security service told Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema that it was being influenced by ‘undemocratic groups’, prompting her to freeze funding.

The school has taken a combative approach, trying to block publication of the last inspection report through the courts. It has always denied being influenced by radical elements, and the inspectors’ report found no evidence that it was indoctrinating pupils along Salafist lines as had been claimed.

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