Unlike most school trips which bring students to zoos or museums, a primary school in London took students to meet an Islamic preacher deemed by the High Court as “extremist”.
LEWISHAM, LONDON – A primary school in London arranged an excursion for students to meet an “extremist” who had promoted and encouraged religious violence, triggering criticism from some experts.
The children, aged eight to nine, met with Shakeel Begg, the chief imam at the mosque attended by British army soldier Lee Rigby’s killers.
They were taken to Lewisham Islamic Centre to participate in a discussion about Islam with Mr Begg. Mr Begg has previously lost a libel action to BBC last October after the High Court ruled him as a “Jekyll and Hyde character” who supported violence and extremism.
Details and photographs of the visit were posted on the mosque’s website, according to the Telegraph. They have since been removed.
Mr Begg also praised the children, from Kilmorie Primary School, for their eagerness to learn about Islam and their appreciation of “the many shared beliefs and values of different faith communities”.
The school trip, which took place on Mar. 21 and 22, triggered criticism from Tom Wilson, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society.
Mr Wilson, who wrote a research paper on Mr Begg’s extremism in March, condemned the visit and said the school had a duty of care to safeguard the children.
“It is shocking and frankly unacceptable that any school should be arranging visits with anyone associated with extremism,” he said.
Kilmorie school’s governor Sally Kelly defended the visit and said the children had around-the-clock supervision.
“Visits like this one to a religious establishment are an important part of our rich curriculum promoting the British values of tolerance of people of different faith and beliefs,” she added.