Media Release - John Paul College

Media Release
The Principal of a prominent Islamic College in Strathfield today
called on all Muslim leaders to strongly and unequivocally
condemn all forms of terrorism.
Silma Ihram, Principal of Noor Al Houda Islamic College in
Strathfield, joined with staff, students and parents in condemning
the targeting of civilians and suicide bombers in the name of
"Islam is a religion of patience and mercy. Its teachings are the
same as those of Abraham, Moses and Jesus and all of them state
that men of faith are patient when facing adversity, continue to do
good deeds and speak the truth. I grew up in a Christian
household, and then adopted the Muslim faith. Neither of these
faiths teach this senseless killing," Ms Ihram said.
Her staff members echoed her comments. Osman Karolia, an
Australian-born teacher at the College remarked: "Our religion
bans suicide and the kind of killing we see daily on the news. To
kill an innocent person is likened to killing the whole of humanity
in the Quran."
On Monday 25th the College joined an independent school - St.
Ignatius College at Rivervew in a visit to the British Consulate in
Sydney to write their condolences in a register set up after the
events of 7/7.
The College has previously visited the Russian embassy to express
its condolences following the hijacking of a primary school in
Beslan. Morning Assemblies have frequently been used to counsel
students on appropriate responses to such horrific events, and to
reject such extremism.
When asked about a sense of frustration amongst members of the
Muslim community, particularly with the ongoing Palestinian
problem, Ms Ihram remarked: "People who have faith never resort
to revenge, or lose hope. We need our Muslim leaders to work
more constructively on finding just solutions to the problems
facing Muslim communities."
Students at the school expressed mixed feelings about the response
of Muslim leaders to the bombings. “We need our community
leaders to be united in clearly condemning this kind of behaviour –
like the 22 Imams in London who stood and spoke together. The
Muslim religious leaders in Australia are not as united as that
here,” said Doha Ayoubi a Year 12 student at the school.
Another student, Abraham Assoum of Year 12, said: "These things
happen in Iraq and Istanbul and Karachi and Madrid and now
London. We cannot let it happen here. I wish Muslim imams and
leaders did more to reach out to ordinary Australians like me."
Students from Noor
Al Houda and St.
Ignatius sign the
condolences book
with British Consul
General Mr. Tim
Holmes on
Monday, 25th July.
Official School Opening
See full article Here
Noor Al Houda Islamic College Hosts
Canadian Parental Experts
The recent visit of Drs Ekram and Mohamed Bashir has left a
lasting impression on many students and staff in Sydney. Speaking
to senior students of the high school the two speakers who are
Egyptian born Canadians reminded students of the important focus
of their lives caring for each other, their religion and preparing for
the akhirat.
With humorous examples students heard about the kind of person
that a Muslim could be. Instead of focusing on the dos and don ts
of Islam, the doctors emphasised and clarified the competing
emotions and concerns of teenagers. Living in a Western country
as a practising Muslim is not only challenging but can also be a
rewarding experience and an opportunity to develop knowledge
and skills not available in other parts of the world.
A full day parenting workshop was run in Brundah Hall with
workshops assisting parents to understand the needs of their
children and how to respond to difficult situations based on a clear
understanding of the Quran and Sunnah. For those parents who did
not benefit from the Australia wide visit of the Beshir Drs, a video
tape of their parenting workshop and Parenting Manuals is
available at the front office.
The Beshir Doctors
were extremely
helpful and
enlightening and
many benefitted
from their talks and
Establishing Links with St Ignatius
A chance meeting with a pioneer of Muslim Womens activities in
Sydney resulted in a desire to allow students from the prestigious
Catholic boys school St. Ignatius, to exchange visits with boys
from a Muslim high school.
The boys from St. Ignatius had not previously had the opportunity
to chat with the boys from Bankstown who came from a
completely different socio-economic and religious culture. So it
was with some trepidation that a carload of senior students headed
from the North Shore, armed with their schools weighty Annual to
meet with Noor Al Houda boys.
Within minutes of their arrival the teachers stepped back and the
boys chatted happily about their common interests concerns over
the HSC and sport amongst others.
Visits between the schools have continued with a fast paced
Basketball match, return visits by Noor Al Houda students to
attend morning Assembly and Mass with St. Ignatius, while a
selection of Yr 9-11 students attended the Friday Jumaat at Noor al
For the future the focus is expected to be on a more academic
challenge with a debate and an essay writing challenge.
Students from
both schools
with their
Osman Karolia
and Melvyn
The Goodness and Kindness Project
A major focus of Noor Al Houda's activities involves the
development of greater understanding and compassion between
Muslims and other cultures. Australia is fortunate to have so many
different cultures which are allowed to not only practise their
religion but also to teach and interact with each other.
When a former teacher of Noor Al Houda informed the school that
he is actively involved with a new project aimed at increasing
awareness and understanding between faiths he found immediate
support from the school. Earlier this year the trio running the
project visited the school a Christian lay speaker, a Jewish rabbi,
and Seyfi a Muslim teacher who previously taught English and
some drama to the students.
Demonstrating to the senior students how their preconceptions
serve to encourage them into putting people into boxes, the trio
were filmed by the Compass program as they fielded questions
about Palestine and ethics. The program was aired on the ABC on
Sunday 27th March.
Despite a fantastic turnout from many of the schools who had
participated in the Goodness and Kindness Project run by the trio
of religious spokesmen, the media decided not to celebrate the
unveiling of a huge quilt made of individual squares with each
child's intention to improve their world.
Muna from Year 5 spoke eloquently along with other junior
speakers about a better world for the next generation, based on
mutual respect and understanding. More than 1,000 students took
over Macquarie St. while politicians sat and listened to the voices
of the young leaders of tomorrow. Such good news unfortunately
does not increase the ratings of newspaper or television.
Muna from Year 5
spoke eloquently to
the hundreds of
students about a
better world before
meeting with the
Premier Bob Carr
in front of the quilt
made by primary
school students.
How Noor Al Houda Islamic College
relocated to Strathfield
School closed at the end of 2002 with great uncertainty for the students
and staff at Noor Al Houda. A proposal had been put to the owners of
the former Lidcombe Hospital and accepted, however an exchange had
not occurred pending Council approval.
Unfortunately, as in the situation of Linnwood Hall at Granville,
local residents this time in the Lidcombe area - mounted a
campaign against the school utilizing the premises. The anticipated
move to the site was halted by the inability of Council to approve a
Development Application for the site in December. The first
meeting of Auburn Council which considered the whole proposal
for the Lidcombe site resulted in a deferral amidst scenes of public
speeches and petitions.
In the meantime, negotiations with Bankstown Airport on a stay of
eviction fell through with information that the gates to the Condell
Park property were to be locked at midnight of December 31st
despite discussions of rental as buildings and equipment had not
yet been removed.
The management of Noor Al Houda was left with an awful
dilemma. Staff and students had left for the holidays, only 10 days
remained till the school was due to be locked out, and the school
had literally nowhere to go! An immediate search was mounted for
crisis storage while the school looked for an alternative site.
Alhamdu lillah (praise be to God), a huge warehouse was found
which could cater for al the schools equipment and furnishings and
which also had abundant office space. The site had been leased to
a large commercial enterprise which vacated only months before
the end of the lease and were happy for only minimal rental to be
Over the next 10 days, working up to 12 hours a day and into the
night, trucks loaded furniture, computers, files, desks and chairs
onto the trucks using community labour, friends and supports of
the school. Within minutes of the last truck leaving the site, new
padlocks were applied to the gates 10 hours before the agreed
deadline but the schools equipment had been saved.
Over the next 4 weeks of the school holidays the administration
began a frantic search for an alternative site, looking at properties
from Bondi to Campbelltown. Bankstown Council was
approached and suggested sites all of which the school could not
prepare or have approved in time. Appeals to the State
Government continued as they had for the past 2 years resulting in
an unfortunate meeting with the Education Minister John Watkins
where a delegation of staff and parents were told that he could not
or would not assist other than to fast track our students into the
public system.
A number of meetings were held with both distressed staff and
parents over the schools progress in finding alternative premises
with crying parents and students resolutely pledging not to attend
any school until such time as Noor Al Houda successfully
relocated. This desperation by both parents and students resulted
in a demonstration where the Premier was speaking in a public
park in Bankstown. This proved to be a public relations disaster
for both the Premier and the school. The Premier refused to
answer questions from the students after delivering a speech in
which he pledged to support the children of Bankstown. To the
surprise of all, the Premier then power walked across the large
reserve in front of the venue at Paul Keating Park, with media, and
students trying to catch up to him. With the students and the media
in tow, the Premier then took refuge inside a local lawyer s
office locking all but minders outside. A far more effective
response would have been for the Premier to respond to the
students concerns or offer real assistance such as that offered to
the Catholic schools which only weeks later also discovered
contamination on their sites.
repairs have had to
be made to the
buildings in order
to make them
The site was in considerable disrepair. Over 8 days, broken
windows were replaced, old furniture removed and the site cleaned
up ready for occupation. The day before school opened, office
staff used their mobiles to frantically call parents to announce that
school would open the following Monday, even as desks and
chairs were still being carried in.
The school now has a sufficient lease and is working hard to
restore old buildings on the site. Currently less than a third of the
former students of Noor Al Houda have been accommodated and
only half of the staff have been retained. In effect a huge loss to
the community.
Noor Al Houda now hopes to complete the restoration of buildings
on the site, and then begin planning for its long term future. The
new site is comfortable convenient and allows us to re-establish
ourselves as a provider of quality, caring education.
Address: 420 Liverpool Road, Strathfield 2136
Phone: 02 9642-0104 Fax: 02 9642-0106
Email: [email protected]
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