Britain’s race relations chief defended last night the right of Muslims to open their own schools. In remarks that put him at odds with Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, Trevor Phillips said that Muslims had as much right as other religious groups to educate their children according to their beliefs. Last weekend Ms Kelly said the Government had to stamp out Muslim schools that were trying to change British society to fit Islamic views.
But, in a lecture to the Royal Geographical Society, Mr Phillips criticised the view, now rapidly gaining ground, that faith schools, and Muslim schools in particular, were incompatible with full social integration. He said: “What the proponents of this view really want to say is one of two things. One, a perfectly valid view, is that religion should be banned from the public sphere and practised only in private if at all. The other, not at all valid in my view, is that Muslims can’t be trusted to run schools, like Christians have done for centuries.”