German schools under criticism for questioning children's faith

FUAT UĞUR
ISTANBUL
Published 16.06.2015 22:56

In Germany, Muslim immigrant families in particular are very anxious. And there are already many developments and implementations justifying their anxiety.

But a new one has been added to these implementations; a scandalous one, a violation of human rights.

This time, the aim is to keep a record of all immigrants through students and collect descriptions of families.

At the schools in Germany's Hesse state, a questionnaire was distributed to students between 12 and 15 years of age. Our source conveyed a sample of these forms to us from Offenbach. We will not mention the name of the school for safety concerns.

It is not yet known which institution of the German state is behind this questionnaire. When the form and content of the questions are examined, it is evident that the psychological and pedagogical development of students was not taken into consideration.

The questionnaire, which was seemingly prepared with an assumption that Islam has close ties with violence by its very nature, has some scandalous questions. It is quite explicit that the questions intend to detect the religious beliefs and tendencies of especially the Muslim students, so the immigrant families started to worry even more.

The form firstly asks the gender of students and whether they believe in a religion or not. After that, the question: "Which religion do you belong to?" tries to create an impression that they were addressing different religious groups. But it is inferred from the following questions that the Muslim students are directly targeted.

Since it does not ask the names of the students, the questionnaire supposedly guarantees anonymity. But those familiar with the latest technologies only smile at this statement.

The true color of the issue becomes clearer as the following questions come. After some mild questions such as, "Do women and men have equal rights in your religion?" the real intentions stand out. The ones that attract the most attention are those that try to create a perception that religion and violence are related. For instance, below the strange question: "What can you do for the sake of your religion?" there are options including "I would kill for my religion" and "I would even immigrate to another country for my religion."

In another question, the students are asked: "Which Islamic organization do you know about?" One can easily guess the options for this question – all the terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida, Boko Haram, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad Movement.

Malik Karabulut, who is an educational counselor in Germany, said he was shocked when he first saw the questions:

"Above all, this is a violation of human rights, and more than that, they are not questions that can be directed to children who are 12 to 15 years of age and whose personalities have not completely developed. Some questions are also inconvenient in legal terms. In this sense, I am warning parents. I do not even want to think about the possibilities the parents can face if a child randomly marks one of the options without understanding the content of the question. There are some points I wonder about. Who prepared these questions? What is the real motivation of preparing such a questionnaire? In how many schools and how many classrooms were these questionnaires distributed? What is the proportion of Muslim children in the schools where this questionnaire was conducted? Where are the answered forms sent and who analyzes the results? Who stores the forms and in what way? Will these children encounter these forms at some phase of their professional lives in the future? In that way can they will determine the features and descriptions of the students and their families according to their wish basing on the questionnaire's results. This is an illegal recording. I would like to say that no child is obliged to fill out these forms. This is a very dangerous case. It is illegal to impose this in legal, ethical and educational terms."

He also referred to Article 4 of the German constitution by saying: "Parents do not need to be afraid. They must resort to their attorneys and open a legal procedure about it."

"Article 4 of the constitution states the freedom of thought and faith. Schools have to pay attention to that. It is unlawful and unethical to attempt to learn private information by using children," Karabulut said.

This situation is really grave. It is another problem that other EU countries do not show any reaction to such implementations in Germany. Who will compensate the loss of the children and parents whose lives could be made miserable just because the child answered the questions without understanding them?

For example, there is a question that reads: "Do you know Salafis or the ones battling for their religion?"

Does the child have to know anything about Salafis? In previous years, another question was asked to the youth in Germany: "Which one is more sacred in Christianity: Christmas or Easter?" The majority of the youth did not know that Easter was more sacred and they answered that Christmas was.

Such questions addressed to students who are still children hurt democratic consciences, but the German state gradually normalizes such implementations, which is the real danger.

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