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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Islamic schools reopen
Scene of the World Trade Center devastation
The schools were closed both out of respect and fear
Three Islamic schools in north London have reopened after closing their doors to protect pupils from abuse in the wake of the attacks on the United States.

Islamia Primary - England's first state-funded Islamic primary school - and two other schools on the site in Brent resumed classes on Monday after closing for most of last week, the Islamia Schools Trust said.

We've had a few telephone calls of support from locals in the area

Zafar Ashraf, chief administrator
The school's head teacher, Abdullah Trevathan - who is himself a New Yorker - said the closure had been primarily as a mark of respect to the victims and their families.

It was also a precautionary move after the school received some "threatening" phone calls.

Mr Trevathan said there had been one or two cases of people spitting in front of pupils in the street and that many pupils were visibly nervous.

"Some are going along to the sick-bay with problems that don't really exist and that sort of thing.

"They're picking up on the energy that's around, if you like," said Mr Trevathan.

Heightened security

Chief administrator at the school, Zafar Ashraf, said security was "slightly heightened" but said the school had also received messages of support from the local community.

"We've had a few telephone calls of support from locals in the area.

"We had two in the office and the head teacher received some, so that was quite reassuring," said Mr Ashraf.

'Knee-jerk reactions'

The Association of Muslim Schools (AMS), based in Leicester, said it was not aware of any of the schools it represents being forced to close.

All Muslim schools should seek to consolidate their place in the wider community

Yusuf Islam, AMS
But the association - which has condemned the atrocities in New York and Washington - warned that staff, pupils and parents of British Muslim schools may have to face the adverse consequences of "knee-jerk reactions" to the loss of life in the United States.

The chairman of the Association of Muslim Schools, Yusuf Islam, said: "The need for Muslims to be able to go about their lawful business in our country at this difficult time is of prime importance.

"And all Muslim schools should seek to consolidate their place in the wider community."

Help for teachers

Meanwhile the teachers' union, the NASUWT, has posted advice on its website to help members deal with sensitive questions which pupils may raise.

The advice is also intended to protect the interests of Muslim children.

General secretary, Nigel de Gruchy, said: "In short, NASUWT members are being advised to follow the very helpful lead provided by the prime minister in emphasising that terrorism and the indiscriminate use of violence are not advocated by any faith group represented in Britain."

The advice suggests members should be especially vigilant in case there are attempts to attack or discredit Muslim children by attempting to lay the blame for the terrorist acts on their faith.

Such cases should be reported to the head teacher as a matter of urgency, the union advises.

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See also:

14 Sep 01 | Education
Fear closes Islamic schools
14 Sep 01 | Americas
Islam: Faith under fire
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