22:19 GMT11 July 2020
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    When angry parents contacted the school in Kalmar County in southern Sweden, its authorities said it was merely "role-play".

    Fifth-grade pupils in Bjurbäcksskolan, Emmaboda Municipality had to participate in a religion lesson, where they kneeled on prayer mats facing Mecca and worshipped Allah in Arabic, the news outlet Samhällsnytt reported.

    The class was also reportedly divided by gender and the girls had to move to the back of the room.

    “Today my girls came home from school and told me that they were forced to lie on prayer mats and pray in Arabic. The girls had to be in the back of the classroom. Then they would dance to Arabic music and eat Arabic cake. My girls did not even want to be there because they could not understand a word of what the teacher read from the Quran in Arabic”, an angry parent who called himself Markus told Samhällsnytt.

    According to Markus, some students brought their own mats. The teacher distributed mats to the students who did not have their own. The pupils would be facing the Kaaba, the centrepiece of the Great Mosque of Mecca.

    When confronted by parents, school authorities said it was “role-playing”.

    “I was obviously upset to hear that. That the school, at lesson time, chooses to divide the children by gender and put the girls in the back of the classroom is absolutely crazy. As is kneeling on a rug and praying to Mecca. All while a native speaker recites the Quran”, Markus told Samhällsnytt.

    According to Markus, kneeling in the face of a “hostile” religion that “oppresses and marginalises girls” contradicts the very idea of school education and sends the wrong kind of message, as is the idea that one gender is somehow more important than the other.

    By his own admission, Markus wants the school to apologise, explain itself and follow Sweden's laws. He has requested that the headmaster take a time out during the investigation period.

    Tweet: "Swedish students in grade 5 in Emmaboda were forced to lie on Muslim prayer rugs turned toward Mecca and pray to Allah in Arabic. The headmaster dismisses it as 'role play'".

    ​The incident sparked an outcry on social media, where many found it untenable and interpreted is as a sign of Islamisation.

    “Those responsible for this should be dismissed with immediate effect”, one user tweeted.

    ​“Imagine the reverse... Muslim children had been made to partake in Christian or Jewish 'role play'. Then heads would have rolled, and the outrage milieus would have been jangling”, another one said.

    ​Earlier this year, a video of Danish pupils kneeling on the ground and chanting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) under their teacher's supervision sparked outrage in Sweden's neighbouring country. The video was not intended for the public eye and sparked many accusations of “indoctrination”.

    At 8.1 per cent of the population, according to a 2017 Pew Research report, Islam is Sweden's largest minority religion.

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    Tags:
    school, Islam, Scandinavia, Sweden
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