Original translation by Michael Laudahn
During the past school year in Belgium, numerous parents and students complained about the so-called ‘community lessons’, which include mandatory visits to mosques during school hours. The patriotic Vlaams Belang party calls these obligatory excursions into the world of islam unconstitutional. Therefore, Filip Dewinter appeals to parents to keep their children at home during such excursions.
Concerning this matter, parents of students in Antwerp, Ghent, Eeklo and Aarschot had already been in touch with Vlaams Belang. Schools often organise visits to mosques during so-called ‘community lessons’, and regularly in connection with various ‘pedagogic projects’.
Students refusing to participate in such excursions, and supported by their parents, are noted as being ‘absent without leave’, sometimes even punished. However, this procedure is in a manifest contradiction to the belgian constitution’s article 20, which states: ‘Nobody can be forced, in whatever manner, to participate in rites and festivities of a cult, or to respect its holidays.’
During these visits, certain subjects are shamefully concealed, like the inequality in islam among men and women, the very problematic relationship between islam and human rights, or the frequently exercised religious coercion. Therefore, Filip Dewinter organizes an action called ‘Let the children stay at home’, declaring: ‘If a school wishes to organize such visits, then they ought to take place outside regular school lessons, and any participation ought to be voluntary. I appeal to parents of flemish students to not make them participate in visits to mosques, because these are equal to a shameful islamic indoctrination of the students.’ Likewise, Dewinter addressed a written inquiry to education minister Pascal Smet, complaining about mandatory mosque visits.