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The Misfit Expats

by Newsweek Pakistan

A student studies the Quran at the Darul Uloom Hanfia Razvia madrassa. Sajjad Hussain—AFP

Pakistanis in the U.K. often adopt more hardline stances than their Muslim brethren in the homeland.

BBC correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones has written in an article for Pakistan daily Dawn that the U.K. may be preparing to demand more integration into British culture from Pakistanis living in the country. This move has been triggered by the proliferation of “Islamic schools” in Britain and a recent Birmingham scandal in which “Islamists were [found] seeking to take over the management of state schools to advance their religious agenda.”

British authorities in October ordered the closure of four Islamic schools, two of which are operated by the Madni Trust. Both Madni schools—one in Nottingham and another in Sheffield—have been found to be teaching values opposed to British society. There is no non-Islamic history or geography taught, leaving out broad swathes of required knowledge such as the two World Wars. The schools are currently under inquiry and may be shut down permanently if an appeals process does not go their way.

The Madni Trust is presided over by Deobandi Mufti Rafi Usmani of Karachi’s Darul Uloom. Usmani frequently makes trips to the U.K. to look after their religious direction. Darul Uloom has traditionally been the preserve of two brothers, Taqi and Rafi. Taqi served as a judge of the Federal Shariah Court of Pakistan from 1980 to 1982 before being appointed to the Sharia Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan from 1982 to 2002. He is a Permanent Member of the Islamic Jurisprudence Academy at the Organization of Islamic Conference and a member of the Rabita-al-Alam-e-Islami (Muslim World League). Taqi shocked Pakistan by condemning the Women’s Protection Bill in 2007. Meanwhile, Rafi Usmani became involved in jihad and visited Afghanistan when the Deobandi Taliban first established their Sunni utopia in the war-torn state.

Britain, much like the rest of Europe, is reacting to the radicalization of Muslim youth in their societies, which can make them vulnerable to recruitment by Islamic State. It is, sadly, yet another example of expatriate Muslims adopting more extreme mindsets than their homeland brethren.

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