Sydney School Students Bullied Into Islamic Prayer

From Daily-Mail:
High-school students are being pressured to attend daily prayer meetings, lectures on the Koran and even cut their hair by peers badgering them to conform to Islam, according to 'scared' parents at Punchbowl Boys High School.

The Punchbowl high school in Western Sydney has been identified as one of 19 New South Wales schools at risk of radicalising Muslim students, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The NSW Government listed 19 schools across Western and South-Western Sydney taking part in a counter-extremism program called School Communities Working Together.

Punchbowl Boys High School former principal Chris Griffiths initially refused the deradicalisation program, claiming he was not comfortable with prayer groups being monitored or the school being 'stigmatised'.

Mr Griffiths, who converted to Islam in 2014, was sacked in 2016 by Education Department Secretary Mark Scott.

Since the program was refused, 'scared' parents have spoken out, claiming the school was run more like a mosque than a school.

The parent of a Year 7 boy, who remained anonymous for the privacy of her son, said he was bullied by other children for not conforming to the Sunni religion.

She said he was pressured into praying, and even bullied for having longer hair because it didn't meet popular religious demands.

'The kids come up to my son and ask him 'come and pray, come and pray'. But we do different things to other families and the school. Why doesn't prayer have to be in school time,' she told
The Daily Telegraph.

'He goes to school to learn, it's not a mosque. Religion is for the home, not for the school.'

The worried mother said her son felt pressured to follow common practices at the school, including prayer groups run during the school day.

She said she believed former principal Chris Griffiths was responsible for the religious activities, and was happy to see him gone.

Mr Griffiths was replaced by new principal Robert Patruno.

Mr Patruno has accepted and thrown his support behind the anti-radicalisation program.

The program involves a team of experts who are educated on how to 'scan' for at-risk students, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The team, which includes psychologists, IT workers and support workers, also assesses religious leaders working at the school.

The program also works to ensure students or religious leaders don't attempt to convert non-believers to the religion.

Not everyone in the Punchbowl community was thrilled about the decision to sack former principal, and Islam convert.

A petition of support for Mr Griffiths received 1650 signatures.

Punchbowl Boys High School mother Rana Dergham said her two sons, students at the school, were upset about Mr Griffiths' sacking.

She claimed the sacking was a shock to the school community, and they were left without a chance to say goodbye.

New principal Robert Patruno was met with threats of violence when he started in the position.

Mr Patruno was confronted by two men of Middle Eastern appearance yesterday who reportedly told him: 'We're going to get you, we're going to f*** you up, you dog'.

Education Department Secretary Mark Scott told The Daily Telegraph Mr Griffiths was removed from his position when he turned down the deradicalisation program.

Mr Scott said there were claims students assaulted, and threatened to behead teachers.

The Education Department Secretary also reported the school was not welcoming to police and was becoming isolated.

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