Hate in the name of Peace: Kerala School Principal arrested

Published on: March 6, 2018



Image of a Class 2 Textbook
MM Akbar, Director of a chain of Peace International Schools in Ernakulam Kerala  was arrested in February 2018 from Hyderabad. Kerala government has issued a lookout notice when the textbooks being taught in the schools were exposed for teaching objectionable and communal content.

Portions of a Class 2 textbook that propagates Islamic orthodoxy and conversion were leaked. It had come to notice that the school has activity questions such as:
Suppose, your best friend Adam/ Suzanne has decided to become a Muslim.
Among the choices, what advice will you give?
  1. He/She has to change her name to Ahmed/ Sara, immediately
  2. He/She is wearing a chain with a cross. Need to remove it.
  3. Learn the Shahada
  4. Run away from home as parents are not Muslims
  5. Eat halal chicken
It can be seen that many of these messages may reinforce violent practices. Such as gently suggesting that if the child is wearing a chain with a cross, there is a possibility that it could be removed. If the parents are not Muslims, the suggestion being made is that the child can run away from home, suggesting that the child should run away. These messages create a subtle form of othering for children belonging from different religions and are creating an ‘Us’ vs ‘Them’ divide. Such subtle religious fanaticism is highly dangerous for children of an impressionable mind. This normalizes violent practices at an early age. Apparently the text book also taught students how to deal with non-Muslims.

The Kerala government had earlier issued an order to close the school in Ernakulam for teaching content that was found to be objectionable and communal in nature. But it was only after a month that MM Akbar, the director of the school was arrested in Hyderabad in February 2018. It came to light that MM Akbar heads the institution which has 13 schools under its purview in different districts.

Chief Minister Pinarayi  Vijayam ordered the closure of the school after taking into consideration the reports submitted by the Education Secretary and the Collector on the objectionable content taught in the school. The Education Department has reported and exposed the fact that the management was following textbooks compiled by a Mumbai-based Islamic educational institution NCERT, CBSE or SCERT textbooks. An FIR was filed against the school in October 2016 for promoting enmity among different groups on the basis of religion.