Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 27 October 2020

Calls for expired Swedish school permits to be axed after ISIS school exploits loophole

Romosseskolan school plans to expand into site of former Muslim school shut down amid allegations it hired ISIS fighters as teachers

Officials have granted a permit to open a new school in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.
Officials have granted a permit to open a new school in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

Politicians in Sweden are calling for tougher measures on school permits after a controversial school with links to the Muslim Brotherhood exploited a loophole.

The Romosseskolan school, which runs Muslim independent schools, sparked controversy when it announced it was expanding into an education building that was shut down after allegedly employing former ISIS fighters as teachers.

Earlier this year it was accused of gender segregation in lessons and faced criticism over its policy of not allowing pupils a choice over whether they attended prayer sessions.

It had been awarded a permit in 2015 prior to these incidents to create a new school which expired in 2017.

However, it has been allowed to use the permit as school officials believed they would fail in a court bid to reject the continued use of it as they claim they had not made the timetable for its use clear.

Sweden's Liberal party school policy spokesman Roger Haddad is now calling for an overhaul of the system which bans the use of old permits and takes the school governance into account.

The principal of the Romosseskolan school, Abdirizak Waberi, is also the former president of the Federation of Islamic Organisations, which is believed to be the European arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"The Liberals propose to make it easier to close schools," Mr Haddad said.

"We will continue to demand political changes and a sharper reaction from the Swedish Schools Inspectorate."

He is calling for a new law to impose "tighter" restrictions and give the schools inspectorate tougher powers.

"In the case of an application to conduct school activities, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate conducts an ownership and management review," he told Expressen.

"But it is focused on the board, on ownership, on the company's composition and on its finances. The examination does not include the school principal or the principal, and we believe that it should do so.

"Such a law would not only be applicable in the permit examination, but also if there are later shortcomings in school activities."

The Romosseskolan school plans to open a new school in the former state-funded Islamic Vetenskapsskolan school in Gothenburg, which was closed last year after it was accused of hiring ISIS fighters as teachers after their return from Syria.

In 2018 it had successfully appealed in court against a decision by the inspectorate to reject its request to open a school in the city of Boras.

Officials had argued that the school would increase segregation and would counteract the initiatives it had introduced to improve integration.

There are still radicalisation concerns in Gothenburg, where the new school will be located, as more than one third of Sweden’s ISIS fighters originated from the area.

In February Swedish authorities gave a warning that Islamic extremists were still focusing on the city.

The Vetenskapsskolan school was closed in December and had its permit withdrawn over radicalisation concerns.

It was claimed that one member of the school’s new board had shared ISIS propaganda online and four former ISIS fighters allegedly taught in the school, along with another man who had been accused of soliciting funds for terrorism.

Updated: September 18, 2020 08:24 PM

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