The Islamic secondary school Ibn Ghaldoun in Rotterdam refuses to pay back the 1.2 million euro that State Secretary Van Bijsterveldt (Education) withdrew from the school.
"We're not going to pay that amount back. I'm giving nothing back because it's not spent. We'll fight this till the highest judiciary," says a furious school president Naas.
Van Bijsterveldt wants the money for education back because it was spent on all kinds of side issues. For example, students, parents and personnel went on a trip to the holy sites in Saudi Arabia, coaches were bought for student transport and two imams received salary thought they were only connected to the school on paper.
The education inspection couldn't prove that there's been fraud, but says that something is going amiss at the school. Besides the faulty spending of the money it appears that the school is giving its students scores which are too high and helping family members of the administration to jobs.
According to Naas there's an issue of debts, not of embezzlement or metaphoric constructions. He wants an independent investigation, asking why the annual accounts had been approved by the ministry for years and now suddenly after an anonymous tip a new investigation was started.
The administration chairman is sure that this is a plot. "This is a pure political issue,there's a smear campaign against Islam going on in the Netherlands. There's clearly no place for Islamic education in this country." He says the timing of the announcement also seems particular, since they've been asking for money for building, which they had expected to get, and now suddenly they get negative news and he's guessing that the new building won't go through either.
According to Naas the school has only one goal and that is to give good education to Islamic children and keep them off the streets by helping them to a diploma. "The people who according to the report don't work here, are really here daily in school. For the reception of children we had indeed brought in and paid family, but more because we couldn't get any other people. The trips to Mecca were meant to let the Islamic children see in the scope of citizenship what such a pilgrim tour involves. We can plainly refute everything."
Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)
See also: Rotterdam: School suspected of financial abuse