Apparently the SNP 'have mobilised not just autocratic Catholic prelates but radical Islamic politicians in the hope that by offering them group rights they will deliver an ethnic block vote to the party. This raises the spectre, in some eyes, that in a Scotland fully under SNP control, individual citizenship will count for little and the party will rule through a large bureaucracy which franchises control of education, policy, and other policy areas to mobilised factions inside and outside ethnic minorities'.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the Nationalists' backing for state-financed Muslim schools and their support for the Scottish Islamic Foundation, whose chief executive Omar Saeed manages to square membership of the SNP with calls for the restoration of the caliphate. Amanullah de Sondy, a lecturer in Islamic studies at Glasgow University, believes that such schools will 'leave young Muslims vulnerable to extremist pressures', while Gallagher is concerned that 'there are no strong voices pointing out that young people could be pushed towards introspection and even religious militancy through the insistence that Muslims combine a Scottish allegiance with an active search for their religious roots'.
Coincidentally, today also sees the launch of Accord, a new campaign that opposes the educational segregation of children by faith. The campaign is supported by a diverse coalition of humanists and liberal religious groups, and is warmly welcomed by Polly Toynbee in an article in today's Guardian:
Accord wants faith schools to abide by the same admissions criteria as other state schools, with no selection by belief. Teachers should be employed for their skills, not their faith. It opposes Labour's new rules for faith schools, which came into law yesterday, allowing them to keep all jobs for the faithful. Teaching assistants, dinner ladies and caretakers may need to get on their knees to keep their jobs from now on.
But the National Secular Society doesn't think the campaign goes far enough.