Syria restricts Islamic teaching - BBC, UK
- Syria restricts Islamic teaching
By Kim Ghattas
The Syrian authorities will no longer allow foreign
students to study Islam in private schools.
From the next academic year foreigners will only
attend classes at the Islamic law faculty of Damascus
University, in the Syrian capital.
There are 20 Islamic schools operating in Syria under
the supervision of the social affairs and labour
They cater to several thousand foreigners from the US,
Japan, Britain and Indonesia among other countries.
Officially the Syrian government said it was taking
measures against private Islamic schools because their
degrees were not officially recognised yet.
But these institutes were always closely watched by
the staunchly secular Syrian Baath regime and now it
appears that things have been taken one step further.
This comes after several Muslims arrested for alleged
terrorist activities were found to have stayed in
Capt James Yee, a Muslim military chaplain at the
Guantanamo Bay detention centre, who was arrested and
then released last year after allegedly being caught
with classified documents, had studied Islam and
Arabic in Damascus in the mid-1990s.
And in April last year, Assaf Mohammed Hanif, a
British Muslim blew himself up in a Tel Aviv pub.
He had studied Arab at Damascus University in 2000 and
it is thought this is where he was recruited by the
Palestinian group, Hamas.
There are about 3,000 foreigners studying in Syria.
While Damascus has been accused by the US
administration of supporting radical Palestinian
groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it has
received praise for co-operating in the fight against
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