Muslim Imams in the Dutch capital Amsterdam have been accused of secretly following sick traditional teaching methods in which children can be beaten while being taught the Quran.


Islamic law makes it clear that beating children should not cause injury or be on the face and should only be on the shoulders, legs or hands, and in a way that will not cause them to die.


So when mothers hand their children over to the Imam they say the words: "The flesh belongs to you, the bones to me." In other words: the child that does not pay attention can be hit, but not injured.


But now Amsterdam city council member Samira Bouchibti has demanded action to stop violence against children saying that mass abuse of children was taking place during Quran lessons.


The claims are just the latest scandal over Islamic religious education in the city. The politician, a liberal councillor, said that she had gathered statements from dozens of children from schools across the city about what was going on.


She said: "They tell stories about teachers who beat them. Sometimes even with a stick, on their finger tips, or cuffing and pulling their ears. It is allegedly a part of the way they are taught."


Moroccan-born Bouchibti, who besides being a politician for the VVD (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy) is a writer, says that it is not just one or two such stories but dozens. She said what she was being told was also something she had personally experienced from when she went to Quran classes.


She said: "In my days there were beatings too. For example, when someone did not listen. I have no doubts that this happens still now for real."


Dehlia Timman, a member of left-liberal political party D'66, said that she also received indications about massive child abuse from a scholar who investigated Dutch mosques.


The scholar, who wanted to remain anonymous, told a local daily: "We hear from children and parents that this is happening."


Both Bouchibti and Timman urged the local alderman to gather more information and to act.


The child abuse during Quran lessons would be the latest scandal in Amsterdam after Muslims were found to have been claiming cash to attend such religious lessons, which are being offered for free by their local mosques.


The initiative was supposed provide education for the poorer elements of society in Holland, but a loophole meant that religious education could also be claimed and it appears that almost 300,000 EUR (251,000 GBP) of city funds for combating poverty was handed out for classes such as ones for studying the Quran.


The city authorities of Amsterdam have confirmed last month that they have launched an investigation over the sum that was paid from the poverty budget and which has been invoiced for religious lessons.


According to local media, the bulk of the money ended up being claimed by people who wanted to study the Quran, although it is unclear if the lessons ever even took place.


Incredibly the city council seemed oblivious to the problem until they read about it in the local media. The alderman responsible for poverty, Arjan Vliegenthart, launched the investigation after a national daily published a report from a whistleblower.


Vliegenthart wants to find out if some mosques are trying to earn money from government subsidies or if parents sent fake invoices to the city hall for non-existent costs of religious education.

Massimo Catarinella / Wikimedia
City of Amsterdam
KoenBerghuis's picture

Author: Koen Berghuis

Koen Berghuis is ViralTab's roving correspondent and editor of the Benelux & German desk.