AMSTERDAM (JTA) – Citing potential radicalization, the Dutch government prevented the opening of a Muslim school by a group whose former leader praised Islamic State terrorists and wished for Allah to drown Israel in a tsunami.
Education Ministry Undersecretary Sander Dekker on Monday said that the government is withholding funding and permits for SIO – a Dutch-language acronym for “association of Islamic studies” – because its board is working against giving pupils real knowledge. It was the first time that the government cited Islamist radicalization in withholding its permission for the opening of a Muslim school, the Het Parool daily reported.
“Affording education and understanding is, in our society, an important mission for schools. There is no room in this framework for a school board whose actions contradict this mission,” Dekker said in a statement about the decision not to grant SIO, which already runs a school in The Hague, permission to open another school in Amsterdam.
According to Het Parool, Dekker’s statement and decision are connected to remarks made by Abdoe Khoulani, a former secretary of SIO, who in 2014 praised the Islamic State terrorist group, or ISIS, on Facebook, said it was no worse than Israel and also wished for the destruction of Israel in a divine flood.
In June of that year, Khoulani wrote on Facebook: “Long live ISIS! If Allah wills it, we will go to Baghdad to reckon with the scum there.” He was reacting to the refusal of authorities to allow a pro-ISIS demonstration in The Hague. Khoulani later apologized and resigned as secretary of SIO following the backlash that his statement generated.
But a month later, Khoulani wrote on Facebook: “May the Zionist settlement be washed away by Allah’s tsunami today rather than tomorrow.” He also wrote that he hopes David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, was “burning in hell.”
Two months after the ISIS statement, SIO wrote the education ministry to say they do not share Khoulani’s view but the ministry had already initiated a probe for radicalization at SIO’s The Hague school, Het Parool reported. SIO refused to cooperate with the inspection, leading the ministry to say it cannot rule out radicalization by SIO. The government may revoke funding and permits for the Hague school, according to Het Parool.
SIO Chair Soner Atasoy disputed this version of events. In a furious statement that is unusual for its harsh tone, he called Undersecretary Dekker “a pathological liar who can get lost,” saying his school was ready to work with the ministry’s inspection team.