Victoria State education minister James Merlino said yesterday that if true, the claims made by a former teacher at Melbourne's Al-Taqwa College “would be very concerning”.
“I have asked the schools regulator, the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, to investigate the claims,” he said in a statement.
The former teacher wrote to government ministers this week alleging “the principal [Omar Hallak] holds beliefs that if females run excessively, they may 'lose their virginity'”, The Age newspaper said. “The principal believes that there is scientific evidence to indicate that if girls injure themselves, such as break a leg while playing soccer, it could render them infertile.”
The newspaper published a letter that appeared to be written by the college's cross-country team to Hallak challenging his decision, which reportedly took place after he blocked the primary school's team from taking part in district events in 2013 and 2014.
“Just because we are girls doesn't mean we can't participate in running events,” the letter said, adding that the decision was “really offensive to all the girls that were going to participate. It also doesn't say that girls can't run in the Hadith [sayings of the Prophet Mohammed]. As long as us girls are wearing appropriate clothes we can run.”
Al-Taqwa College is believed to be Victoria State's largest Islamic school and had 1 701 students enrolled last year, according to government data. The co-educational private school takes in students up to 18 years old, and received more than US$11,6 million in government funding in 2013. It was not immediately available for comment yesterday. It is not the first time Hallak has made headlines.
The principal told The Age last month that he had instructed students not to join Islamic State as the jihadist group was a plot by Israel and the United States to gain control of Middle Eastern oil.