Peace educational institutions, run by neo-Salafi preacher MM Akbar, have been in news for some time for all wrong reasons. Muslim youths who left Kerala to join Islamic State were associated with this institution. Although Akbar has released a video saying there was nothing wrong with the syllabus and some portions found inappropriate for Class II children have been asked not to be taught. Akbar, who is considered to be a follower of terror preacher Dr Zakir Naik, runs the institutions along with some controversial businessmen.
According to a report in the New Indian Express, the police team investigating the alleged links of Peace International School in Kochi with Islamic State (IS) handlers, has found the institution was involved in radicalising students. The police found that six non-Muslim students at the school were radicalised and converted to Islam. The school authorities had even radicalised non-Muslim members of the management committee. At present, out of the 300 students, only two are non-Muslims, says the report.
“The contents of the textbooks recovered from the school exhort the students to lay down their lives for Islam. A lesson in the textbook, meant for Class II students, asks a question - What Suzanne and Adam would do for religious conversion? Besides, the book contains many lessons, aimed at radicalising the students. One lesson asks ‘Why Islam wins the battles? The answer is Islam wins the fights because it is a sacrifice for Allah,” said an officer.
Although the police officers were tight-lipped about the number of conversions carried out by the authorities, people suspect the number could be very high. Kochi Range IG S Sreejith led the probe team.
The school conducted the classes on the basis of its own syllabus, though it was publicised that the school follows CBSE syllabus. Reportedly the school never taught biology as it teaches about reproduction and sex. Investigators said notices would be issued to the trustees of the school to appear before the investigation team.
Earlier also there were complaints that the school was teaching radical stuff to students. There are 13 schools in the state under the Peace Education Foundation. The police were closely watching the activities of the school as it was found that Abdul Rashid, a Kasargod native, who allegedly recruited the 21 missing persons from the state to IS, was an employee of the school.
The topics taught to small children as young as six years old have been found to be very disturbing and have serious ramifications in the future. There is overdose of religion and nothing about India or duties towards society. The syllabus was shaped to churn out jihadis or radicals. For instance, one of the questions posed to Class II student is: “Will you give your life for Islam?” Another question is: “How to treat non-Muslims?”
“There was nothing in the syllabus to teach about India or nationalism. Islamic study is the main subject from Class I to Class VIII. Other subjects like Maths, Social Studies and Science are elementary. The students were not having any Biology lessons as they have been considered unnecessary. The students have to be admitted to other schools as the school offers classes only up to the standard VIII,” an official told the daily.
Police officials said they found several maps of Tehran in one of the computers when they raided the school following the missing of Merin Jacob, a Kochi native who is suspected to have joined the IS.
“We suspect that more persons working with the establishment were planning to join the IS. All those missing persons who allegedly joined the IS have been connected - directly or indirectly - with Peace International School. At present, there are 11 teachers for Islamic Study subjects from Bihar,” the official was quoted as saying.
The police have registered an FIR against the school management committee, which include three businessmen as its trustees. The FIR was registered under IPC Section 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) at Palarivattom police station following the report by Ernakulam District Education Officer.
“The school was functioning without proper CBSE accreditation. We had interrogated the three businessmen as part of the initial inquiry. They claimed ignorance of the syllabus and told us that they provided funds as requested by Akbar. However, their role will be probed,” said the official. Babu Moopan, chairman of Nippon Toyota and a trustee of the school, said his responsibility was to provide infrastructure facilities. “The syllabus is prepared by Peace Educational Foundation. All the schools run by the Foundation in the state and outside follow the same syllabus. Charges are levelled only against the school in Kochi. People who are trying to tarnish the reputation of the institution are behind this,” he said.