Muslim conversion homework sparks parental fury

© Jean-Paul Pelissier
Parents in Guernsey were shocked to hear about a creative writing homework which asked their children to write a letter saying they had converted to Islam.

The exercise in creative writing was part of a Religious Education lesson, where students were instructed to write the letter while thinking about how it might affect their feelings and the feelings of those around them. 

But parents of the 12-and 13-year-old children complained that the exercise was insensitive, given that many British young people had converted to Islam and traveled to Syria to fight with extremist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

Currently less than 1 percent of Guernsey’s population is Muslim, and the island’s local authorities recently refused to accept any Syrian refugees, the MailOnline reported.

The island’s chief minister, Jonathan Le Tocq, blamed the decision on “Islamophobia and negativity.”

Parents Gemma and Will Gough complained to the local education department and said their child would not complete the work.

Gemma posted on Facebook: “Sorry, but both Will and I feel very strongly – as do many, many other parents – that this is not acceptable. Kids are too impressionable, and imagine if these letters got in the wrong hands in years to come.”

Another posted: “The idiot who thought this one up is not fit to be at the school or in education.”

Parents also took to the local Guernsey Press website to complain. One parent said: “Teach pupils about religion by all means but be very careful when you ask them to be a Muslim.

“In this day and age when easily led youngsters are being radicalised, it is a dangerous road to be taking.

The homework itself came with a note for parents which said: “Please note this is a piece of creative writing and completely fictional.

Guernsey’s education department defended the work in a statement.

“It is important that our students are able to learn about, understand, investigate and question all that is around them. As with all subjects, homework will be set to cover all areas of the curriculum,” it said.