Islam serves all races and cultures

9th June 2000 at 01:00
IN his article on the purported connection between "poverty and lack of success in school" (TES, May 26) Trevor Phillips labelled Muslims as an "ethnic minority... mired at the lower levels of school".

This will come as a great surprise to the Muslim girls at Manchester Islamic high school, for example, 100 per cent of whom achieved five or more GCSE passes at grades A-C last year.That success was mirrored in schools, both state and independent, around the country. "Clusters of success", yes, but "racial groupings"? Surely not.

There are many Muslims within Indian, African and Chinese communities, as well as Caribbean and Irish. I suspect that what he really meant was Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, not Muslims per se.

Given his work with the Runnymede Trust which commissioned the ground-breaking Islamophobia report a few of years ag this lack of clarity is surprising. Or perhaps not. The limited language of race has so dominated multicultural debate that it is hard for people to remember that Muslims belong to a community made up of multi-racial, multi-cultural sub-communities. The sort of race-speak used by Mr Phillips is meaningless in such a context.

I hope he is successful in his search for answers to the racial paradoxes thrown up by educational research. However, as long as race-industry pigeonholes have no real place for white, native-born Geordie Muslims like me (and I am not unique, by any means) and my co-religionists from the 95 per cent of the world that is not the Asian sub-continent, I suspect that the answers he seeks will remain elusive.

Ibrahim Hewitt


Association of Muslim Schools (UK)

1 Evington Lane, Leicester

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