Interior Minister against Islamic school coming to Genk

The Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon (Flemish nationalist) has told VRT News that he is opposed to the opening of Flanders’ first Islamic school in the Limburg town of Genk. On Monday we reported that a group linked to Turkish Islamic organisation Milli Görüs is buying a school building in the town.  Speaking on VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’, Mr Jambon said “This is a step in the wrong direction, we need to look at how we can prevent this”.  

Milli Görüs already has French-medium schools in the Walloon city of Charleroi and the Brussels municipality of Schaarbeek.

At the request of the Federal Secretary of State Zuhal Demir (Flemish nationalist), Mr Jambon has asked the State security Service to investigate the Milli Görüs’ plans for the school and in particular where it is getting the money from to finance its plans.

Investigation by the State Security Service

Speaking in the daily current affairs programme ‘Terzake’ the Mayor of Genk Wim Dries (Christian democrat) had criticised Mr Jambon.

He claimed that he had asked the Interior Minister to launch an investigation into the Milli Görüs a month and a half ago, but Mr Jambon had done nothing until his party colleague Ms Demir had raised the issue with him earlier this week.

However, Mr Jambon says that he did act on Mr Dries’ request "I asked the State Security Service to start an investigation straight away. I have no asked for an update on that investigation, more specifically about how the organisation is financed”, the Interior Minister said.  

"We will follow the curriculum, lesson will be in Dutch"

The organisation behind the Islamic school project has reacted to the controversy. It says that the project is still in its early stages and that at this stage nothing is set in stone.

“The first step is collecting the funding for the purchase of the building and we don’t get our money from abroad". The organisation writes in press statement.  .

It goes on to explain that "An Islamic school is a school that follows the Flemish Education Ministry’s curriculum, where lessons are taught in Dutch and where all teachers have a Belgian teaching diploma and comply with all criteria necessary to be able to teach”.  

The organisation adds that it is in favour of a peaceful society with respect for diversity.