Hague: Child abuse in Koran classes to be investigated

Hague: Child abuse in Koran classes to be investigated

The prosecution in the Hague will investigate 49 cases of child abuse during Koran classes in mosques in the city, it was announced Tuesday.

The local GGD (municipal health department) received so many reports of child abuse that according to the youth health department (JGZ), it's a pattern. This is because the number of reports (49), is almost equal to the number of indications of domestic child abuse (52). While generally, in 93% of the cases of child abuse the offender is a parent or somebody else directly in charge of raising the kids. In total, about 4,600 files were investigated.

In April the Hague municipal council asked the city executive to study the problem after they got stories of children being beaten during Koran classes.

Half of the reports of child abuse were linked to classes in the El Islam mosque. On Monday Mayor Jozias van Aartsen and Alderman (Education, youth and sport), had a pointed talk with the mosque administration.

The mosque administration agrees with the municipality that child abuse is unacceptable and promised to be cooperative and open. The mosque also promised more supervision of Koran classes and to directly intervene if there's concrete indications of violence against children.

The El-Islam mosque also promised to suspend the work of the teachers suspected of child-abuse during the investigation.

The city executive will speak with more mosque administration in the near future. In addition, JGZ social workers will attempt to convince parents to lodge complaints if they suspect their children are being beaten. So far none of the parents was ready to do so in the cases which were discovered.

The Socialist Party in the city council wants a criminal case opened against the mosque. SP councilor Hiek van Driel: "I can't imagine that people from the administration didn't know that children in this mosque were so badly mistreated."

SMN, the umbrella organization for Moroccans in the Netherlands, says they've got reports from their people of possible cases of child abuse in mosques in the Hague, but also elsewhere.

"We know from our network that there are mosques where corporal punishment is meted out. That happens not only in the Hague but in a manner of speaking also in Amsterdam and Utrecht," said chairman Farid Azarkan Wednesday.

SMN says in a press release that it's "intolerable that children get corporal punishment." Azarkan says that teachers should keep their hands off the children. "That we've agreed with each other here in the Netherlands and everybody should keep to it."

The organization calls on mosque administrations to act against teachers who overstep the line and to take seriously parents and children who complain about child-abuse. The SMN will draw attention to this in its regular meeting with mosque organizations.

Azarkan asks for a nuanced discussion on the topic, saying that only a few mosques are guilty of such practices.

Sources: Telegraaf 1, 2; West (Dutch)

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