Labour leader Joseph Muscat said on Friday evening that a new government would reach an agreement with the Islamic Community in Malta and the entities that finance the Mariam al Batool school to guarantee a bright future for the school and put the mind at rest of all the parents – Maltese and non-Maltese who send their children there.
Muscat said this at the ‘Iftar’ celebration held yesterday at the National Labour Centre by the local Islamic community to break the fast of Ramadan.
Dr Muscat said the Mariam al Batool school is a living symbol of diversity and said that a new government would not allow this school to close down but looks forward to help it grow.
The Labour leader said that the party was proud to be organizing this Iftar celebration for the second year running to celebrate diversity in Malta and will continue to do so even in the face of criticism.
Dr Muscat said that many of the Muslims who live in Malta are Maltese and said that society must not exclude those who form part of it.
The Director of the Islamic Centre in Malta Essam el Dernawi said that Ramadan is the ideal time for Muslims to meet others and celebrate together tolerance and respect.
He said there are strong links between the Labour Party and the Islamic Centre in Malta and observed that today there are Muslims who are active Labour members.
The organizer of the celebration Mario Farrugia Borg said that the Labour Party is practicing what it believes in as for this movement where the person wants to get to is more important than where the person is coming from.
Imam Mohammad El Saadi was also present for the Iftar celebration.
It is not the first time that the Labour Party has said that a new government would find ways of helping the school Mariam Al Batool where around 300 children from the age of 3 to 16 attend in classes ranging from kindergarten to secondary.
Up to 80% of the children attending the school comes from Maltese Muslim families. The school was opened in 1997 with children coming from many different countries. It is part of the Mosque complex at Corradino and is quite unique in the world as it caters for Muslim children but is run by a Catholic headmistress with a majority of Catholic teachers while Muslim teachers are in charge of Islamic education.
The Mariam Al Batool School is licensed by the Maltese Education Department and follows the National Curriculum. The school's actual curriculum is based on the Maltese National Curriculum with the Islamic ethos. The school has always operated as a charitable organization and as a result has often faced financial difficulties and struggles to survive. The situation for it became more difficult following the events in Libya last year. Government has helped the school in the last few months to enable it to pay the teachers’ salaries and to run the school.
During a visit to the school former US Ambassador Douglas Kmiec had said: “After seeing so many bright young children of the Christian and Muslim faiths, studying together and learning about each other, I am again reminded of the value of comparative religious studies as a means to facilitate interfaith dialogue.” Ambassador Kmiec also paid tribute to the teachers for their commitment to enhancing the school’s role in celebrating diversity.