"Dad throws a bomb and goes to jail", "I eat a sandwich in jail" etc.

A French course for immigrants has sparked indignation. A book containing easy sentences for reading practice at Erasme in Anderlecht (Brussels) turns out to include surprising content, such as "Dad throws a bomb and goes to prison" and "I eat a sandwich in prison".

It was Catherine Lemaire who blew the whistle, a woman providing accommodation to an Iraqi refugee. The man is following language classes at the institute for social promotion at Erasme and came across some remarkable sentences in his reading practice section.

Exercise 16 states "Read these sentences as said by the professor aloud". The first lines are funny, but take a strange turn next: 1. Dad snores like a trumpet 2. I eat a salmon sandwich with lemon 3. Dad throws a bomb and goes to prison 4. Dad snores and goes to jail 5. I eat a sandwich in jail (etc...)

The Iraqi refugee can't grasp why this kind of examples are being used, all the more because they recall bad memories of violence and terror attacks in the homeland he fled for exactly that reason. Lemaire joins him in his criticism: "Is this responsible didactic material proposed by a host country with the aim of integration?" The case triggered a whole debate in recent days.

Head of the school talking of "a mistake"

Our colleagues of the Francophone public broadcaster RTBF have tracked down the school book and confirmed the story is real. Bernard Delécluse, who is at the helm of the Centre Erasme in Anderlecht, pleads guilty and is talking about "a mistake".

He wants to investigate who in his team is responsible for the content, but also asks not to put every member of staff in the same corner. His school boasts some 2,500 pupils and students.

Education Minister says she is "shocked"

The school principal adds that this book has been used for three years. He does not want the particular content to be used again, but adds that it's impossible to compile a new book for each class each year and to check everything.

Isabelle Simonis, the Education Minister of the Francophone Community, told reporters she is "shocked" by the incident, but wants to wait for the outcome of the investigation before taking any measures.