LONDON: Schools in an east London borough did something that has provoked a strong (read angry) reaction. Pupils as young as nine in Waltham Forest have been asked to fill out a questionnaire designed to provide clues to possible radicalisation. Waltham Forest council has been piloting the scheme, conducted in five primary schools with large Muslim intakes and home to a population that includes about 20 percent Muslims.

The questionnaire, circulated among year 6 pupils, asks a range of bizarre questions. How much do they trust policemen belonging to another race or religion -- for instance. Would they marry someone outside of their race or religion? Are women just as good as men? Do the pupils believe their religion is the only correct one?

Talk about stereotypes! The icing on the bizarrely racist cake is the fact that the programme has been funded with a €500,000 (£360,000) grant from an EU fund – the Radicalisation Leading to Terrorism Programme – that aims to to “identify the initial seeds of radicalisation with children of primary school age.” Identify by perpetuating the worst (not to mention categorically incorrect) stereotypes? Good going (not)!

Below is a list of statements posed to the students in the targeted schools. The options were smiley face (agree), indifferent face (not sure) and unhappy face (don’t agree):

“God has a purpose for me.”

“People from a different religion are probably just as good as people from mine.”

“Women are just as good as men at work.”

“If a student was making fun of my race or religion I would try to make them stop even if it meant hurting them.”

Students were also asked to tick three boxes with which they identify, choosing from British, Muslim, student, artist, athlete, Christian and young.

Not surprisingly, people are angry (and rightfully so). The Islamic Human Rights Commission has urged parents to boycott the questionnaire. Its chairman, Massoud Shadjareh, said it had been designed to target and profile Muslim children. “At this young age, we should be thinking about nurturing and developing our children, not compartmentalising them. I think the questionnaire has clearly been devised by people who haven’t got a clue about radicalisation. “Some of the questions are just plain ridiculous. It’s also clearly racist and Islamophobic – there would be uproar if they mentioned the word ‘Jew’ or ‘black’ in the identity question” (as quoted in The Guardian).