Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

'Weed out textbooks offensive to Muslims'

The Daily Telegraph - 16 February 2006

SCHOOL textbooks should be reviewed for intolerant depictions of Islam and other faiths by experts overseen by the European Union and Islamic leaders, the European Parliament was told yesterday.

The call for a special committee to examine religious education in schools came from Hans-Gert Pöttering, the German Christian Democrat, who heads the largest group of MEPs. But the proposal was immediately condemned as "appeasement'' by Charles Tannock, a British Conservative MEP.

Mr Pöttering, the head of the centre-Right but largely federalist European People's Party, said the work of building bridges between Islam and the West had to "begin with young people''.

During a debate intended to show Europe's unity in the face of the row over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, he said textbooks should be checked to ensure they did not propagate religious stereotypes or prejudice.

He also called for similar tolerance in the Islamic world and suggested that the EU could co-operate with the 56-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference in Saudi Arabia to create a textbook review committee.

But Mr Tannock, the Conservatives' foreign affairs spokesman at the European Parliament, said: "This sounds like an exercise in political correctness and appeasement. I don't see why we should be bringing children into this debate.'