First Islamic school in Flanders to open in Genk

It is likely that the first Islamic school in our region will open Limburg town of Genk. Syntra that organises adult vocational training courses across Flanders has sold its former school building in the Winterslag area of Genk to the “Communauté Musulmane de Belgique” (Muslim Community of Belgium), an organisation that is linked to the Turkish  religious and-political movement Milli Görüs.   

Syntra has moved to a new site at Thor Park in the Waterschei area of Genk and the building in Winterslag was put up for sale. There was interest from several parties. However, Communauté Musulmane de Belgique was the only bidder. A sales agreement has been signed and a deposit has been paid.  

Genk’s Christian Democrat Mayor Wim Dries is not happy with the prospect of an Islamic school opening in his town. However, he concedes that he is obliged to respect the constitutional right to freedom of choice when it comes to education.

"Genk already has an extensive network of schools. We have also spent years making efforts to combat segregation. If this school opens and is given official recognition I will insists that it meets the quality benchmarks set out by the Flemish Community”.

Mr Dries added that like with other schools in Genk he would insist that the new school used Dutch with its pupils from the outset and promotes respectful coexistence between the various communities in what is a highly diverse town.