The Australian documentary series ‘The Swap’ is a social experiment in which 12 children from Christian, atheist and Muslim families swap schools with each other.
In a video clip that has been widely circulated on social media, noticeably uncomfortable students take part in a prayer session in a mosque – leading to accusations of Islamisation and brainwashing of children.
According to SBS, the purpose of the documentary series is to “follow what happens when 12 students and their families from very different cultures, religions and backgrounds are thrown into each other’s worlds.”
“The Swap examines whether a pioneering social experiment involving a school swap can make a real difference in breaking down social barriers and creating greater acceptance, respect and understanding between different cultural communities, and whether the experiment can backfire when cultures clash and controversy arises,” they continue.
Not unexpectedly, controversy and culture clashes did arise. In a clip that has gone viral, seemingly reluctant non-Muslim children attend a service at a mosque where they also kneel down and pray in the Muslim way.
One of the non-Muslim children is also told by a Muslim student that he is showing his knees – something that is unacceptable in Muslim prayer rituals – and that he must pull up his socks.
Video of children in #Australia being taught how to pray in #Mosque.
Furiously parents accuse the school of #Brainwashing & #Islamizing their children
“Would #Muslim parents want their children to visit a #Church & pray to #Christ?”, asked one parent. pic.twitter.com/PuFBAl6B8N
— Manish Gupta (@lawyer_Manish_G) March 8, 2023
SBS, which broadcasts the documentary, is funded by the Australian government, and the fact that they choose to normalize and make a series about non-Muslim children taking part in Muslim prayer rituals is something that has angered many viewers – while the Muslim school where the prayer session takes place is also heavily criticised.
“Video of children in Australia being taught to pray in the mosque. Parents accuse the school of brainwashing and Islamizing their children. Would Muslim parents want their children to visit a church and pray to Christ, one parent asked,” writes a Hindu man.
Ali Kadri, president of the Islamic College of Brisbane and initiator of the documentary series, does not appreciate this kind of criticism and responds that it is “disgusting” to use a short clip to “perpetuate your hatred”.
He further points out that in future episodes, Muslim children will also be seen attending Catholic masses and receiving Christian blessings.
However, Ali Kadri is clear that the programme has a political agenda in the programme description. He notes that “the experiment is about showing that we are all different and being proud of our differences” – but that this cannot be done “unless we make the decision to step out of our comfort zones and engage with those who are different around us”.
He further hopes that national curricula will be influenced by his ideas and that social experiments of this type will be adopted by schools across Australia.