Yesterday I paid a long overdue visit to the Darul Uloom Islamic school in Chistlehurst. Although it has been in the area since the late 1990s the school became more widely known after an arson attack earlier this year. In the wake of the murder of Lee Rigby four young men attempted to damage the school and their actions very nearly led to loss of life of staff and students.
My visit to the school was a wonderful reaffirmation of my belief in the fundamental goodness of people. Despite the terrible and tragic events that led up to the attack there was a wave of local sympathy and support for the school from across faiths and communities and I know that this was very appreciated by the school.
I got the chance to see the boys both at prayer and at study in a computer studies lesson and an English GCSE class and was reminded that there is a longstanding Islamic tradition of science and learning. I gave a speech to the boys and did a Q&A session and get the traditional mixture of questions including “Is Boris going to be PM?”, “How do you get into politics?” and “What do you do?”.
The tradition of hospitality was observed and I wish to thank the staff and students for the lunch and the gifts that the gave me.