MOSCOW, September 16 (RIA Novosti) - Schools in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which was captured this summer by the extremist Islamic State, have been issued a new curriculum. It removes art, music, literature, sports, philosophy, social studies, and Christian religious education from the classroom, and severely limits other subjects, including history and the sciences.
A two-page bulletin describing the curriculum announced that its goal would be “to spread religious sciences and to fight the decayed curriculum.”
In a clear threat to those refusing to abide by the new rules, the bulletin stated that “this announcement is binding,” and that “anyone who acts against it will face punishment.”
Despite the threats, it is unclear how many of the city’s teachers arrived at school on September 9th, the announced start date of the new school year. Some students have reportedly stayed at home, or opted for home schooling, and many parents are refusing to send their children out of fear, uncertainty, or feelings of resistance.
A Mosul resident identifying himself as Abu Hassan refused to send his children to school, saying the new curriculum would “brainwash them and contaminate their thoughts.” He said he would rather that “they lose a whole academic year” than be subjected to the new system, the Associated Press reported.
The reforms to the Mosul curriculum are similar to those occurring in the northern Syrian city of Raqqah, which had been captured by Islamic State militants earlier in the year.
The reform includes attempts to remove any reference to Arab nationalist institutions. The curriculum bans patriotic music, nationalist poetry and lyrics. Conceptions of patriotism have been replaced with the idea of belonging to Islam, to the land of God’s path (shar’ Allah).
The limitations placed on the sciences include the rejection of the Darwinian theory of evolution, and the introduction of the notion that the laws of chemistry and physics are the laws of God.
The teaching of ideas which conflict with Sharia, including concepts of banking and lending at interest, as well as democracy and elections are also banned.
The self-proclaimed caliphate’s archaic educational reforms run contrary to the educational systems which existed in Islamic civilizations during the Islamic Golden Age of the Middle Ages, which included an unparalleled appreciation for the sciences. Islamic scholars at the time translated the work of other world civilizations, and Muslim scientists were responsible for unprecedented advances in mathematics, including the Arabic numerals we use today. Additionally, they excelled in astronomy, medicine, chemistry, physics, geography and cartography.
The self-proclaimed Islamic State, a militant group also known as ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012 and began launching attacks into northern and western Iraq in June, 2014. IS militants have seized vast areas in both countries and have proclaimed an Islamic caliphate in all of the territories under their control, forcing hundreds of thousands of people, including members of ethnic and religious minorities, to flee.
In addition to schools, the IS administers courts, prisons, collects taxes, polices traffic, and has set up ‘morality patrols’ (hisbah), a religious police similar to the kind operating in Saudi Arabia.
Schools in the rest of Iraq have also seen a delay in opening as a result of the Islamic State insurgency.