PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 June, 2006, 12:00am

The teaching of Islam in local schools is complicated by widely held misconceptions and prejudices, the head of religious affairs at Islamic Kasim Tuet Memorial College told the conference.

'Teaching any religion to today's students is tough,' said Zareenah Ho Sau-yin. 'Teaching Islam in Hong Kong is tougher than tough.'

She said the school's religious education programme centred around teaching students 'how to understand and respect faiths different from their own', and creating an atmosphere where any religion could be discussed.

'Many think Islam means terrorism, that it is backward or sexist to women,' Ms Ho said. 'We start by teaching them about the cultural side, that Islam is not just a religion but a way of life.

'We teach that there are medical reasons why we don't eat pork, that other cultures also avoid it for non-religious reasons.'