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Languages: English
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In this thesis I explore the debate over the state funding of Muslim schools in Britain, examining the arguments used for and against by the stakeholders involved. Qualitative interviews were conducted with head teachers, politicians, Muslim parents and representatives from a number of stakeholder organisations, to identify their reasons for supporting or opposing state funded Muslim schools. This research is necessary because until now the opinions of those directly involved have not been systematically researched, resulting in assumptions and generalisations about their views. Muslim schooling has become an increasingly fractious and polarised issue, and only by analysing the actual arguments used by those directly involved can we gain insight into the complexities underlying this debate. This data also allows me to explore how the issue of Muslim schooling relates to broader sociological questions about the rights, responsibilities and forms of belonging appropriate for minority communities in multicultural societies. In the findings I begin by reporting that the main arguments used in favour of state funded Muslim schools were equal rights, a better society, strengthened identity and educational benefits. I then move on to question why, given these strong favourable arguments, so few Muslim schools are currently in receipt of state funding. I ask whether this is due, at least in part, to Islamophobia. I then utilise models of political philosophy to evaluate the arguments surrounding state funded Muslim schools, and find that discourses of equality, social cohesion and identity are employed by both opponents and proponents. It is therefore possible to argue either for or against the state funding of Muslim schools from a liberal, a communitarian or a multiculturalist perspective. Finally I assess alternative solutions to the educational difficulties faced by Muslims in Britain, and conclude with my opinion about whether there should be state funded Muslim schools.
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