Faith campaigners have called on the government to include more Muslim history in the national curriculum, as a way of engaging young Muslim pupils, and educating non-Muslims about the contributions of the Islamic world to science and philosophy.
In February the Department of Education published a draft specification of a new history syllabus which is currently under consultation.
But campaign group Curriculum for Cohesion, backed by the Muslim Council of Britain, claims the draft curriculum " excludes all reference to Muslims and Islam" and are urging teachers and members of the public to appeal to the government before the consultation ends next week.
Muslim girls at school in London
The campaign is being led by Matthew Wilkinson, a former Eton head boy who converted to Islam. It is backed by high-profile patrons includiong MP Sadiq Khan and Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger.
CfC say a broader curriculum would engage Muslim pupils, which they claim make up 10% of the school population, who may feel excluded from British historical identity, and have published “A Broader, Truer History for All”.
CfC's Mohammed Amin told HuffPost UK the campaign was intended to advocate for the inclusion of the history for all faiths, not just Muslim history.
"We have asked, for example, for the curriculum to include the persecution of Jews in the Middle Ages, and their eventual expulsion from Britain.
"This is not just about educating Muslims. This is about those young pupils who hear nothing about Islam at school and grow up thinking Muslims have contributed nothing to the world about from terrorism. Those children could grow up to join the English Defence League."
Examples for inclusion could be:
- The contribution of Indian Muslim, Hindu and Sikh soldiers to the military effort in both world wars
- The preservation and enhancement of ancient Greek and Roman learning by classical Muslim civilisation
- Britain’s long history of trade, diplomatic and other relations with Muslim majority regions
The group said in a statement: "These inclusions are required to paint a true picture of the past. In their absence, British Muslim children will see no place for themselves in their country’s history, creating the risk of alienation.
"At the same time non-Muslim children will grow up believing that Muslims have contributed nothing of value to Britain or indeed human civilisation, creating the risk of their acquiring anti-Muslim attitudes. Neither of these outcomes is good for Britain, or for the ability of Britons to do business in a world economy which is increasingly integrated."