Apartheid tag is wide of the mark

9th October 1998 at 01:00
In a typically misleading statement ("Funding bid for Muslim secondaries", TES, September 25), Birmingham councillor James Hutchings describes discussions about an aided Muslim secondary school in the city as "building apartheid".

This is a wholly inappropriate use of an emotive word, suggesting as it does state-enforced discrimination and separate but unequal development.

Any Muslim school within the state system would offer parents of all faiths and none a choice that doesn't exist at the moment, a choice that increasing numbers are asking for. Nobody would or could be forced to attend such a school, as the word "apartheid" implies, and for Mr Hutchings to say that "social unrest" would result suggests an agenda beyond the usual brief of an education spokesman, even one belonging to the Conservative party.

Come clean Mr Hutchings: if you are against Muslim schools, be honest and say so, but don't try to blame them for the social ills that affect us all.

Ibrahim Hewitt. Development officer. Association of Muslim Schools of United Kingdom and Eire. I Evington Lane, Leicester

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