Islamic school ban sparks protest in Sydney

Hundreds of people have protested against a government’s decision to scrap plans to build an Islamic school in Australia’s biggest city, Sydney. Parents and prospective students have said the decision was unfair and racist.

Plans to build an Islamic school for 1,200 students in the Sydney suburb of Bass Hill survived objections from residents, the local council and legal challenges only to be scrapped at the last minute by the New South Wales government. Construction was due to begin but the state has intervened to buy back the land it sold several years ago.

Busloads of angry parents and their children have demonstrated outside the education department, calling on the authorities to allow the project to go ahead. A spokesman for the protestors, Rafik Hussein, says the government has made a big mistake. “We do not accept that decision. It is un-Australian,” Mr Hussein said

Some campaigners have said the debate has been laced with racial and religious intolerance. Supporters of the plan to build the Islamic school believe that residents’ concerns about noise and traffic congestion have become a euphemism for prejudice.

BBC News, 27 July 2009

See also ABC News, 24 July 2009