A video of students praying at a mosque is circulating in social media posts that misleadingly claim it shows the "brainwashing" and "Islamisation" of schoolchildren. In reality, the clip is taken from an Australian TV show where students from different religious backgrounds swapped schools in order to learn about each other's cultures. The children and parents gave consent to take part in the documentary, according to a spokesperson for Queensland's education department.

"Australia: Parents go furious as a video of children in Australia being taught how to pray in a mosque goes viral," reads a tweet shared on March 9.

"Furious parents accuse the school of brainwashing and Islamizing their children in the name of pleasing a migrant community."

The video, which has more than 220,000 views, shows children praying in a mosque. During the ritual, one student asks his classmate to pull up his socks to cover his knees as a mark of respect.

The clip also shows Ali Kadri, head of the Islamic College of Brisbane, saying he tells his students to be courteous when teaching others about Islamic values. A student then says it was "really nice" to attend the prayer and that he enjoyed the sense of unity with others taking part.


Screenshot of a tweet sharing the misleading claim, taken on March 9, 2023

The video attracted more than 50,000 views in similar posts, including here, here, here and here.

The footage prompted anger on social media, with one Twitter user branding the scene "absolutely inappropriate".

Another said he would like to see a similar video in which Muslim students are taught how to pray in a church.

'School swap'

The clip was taken from a trailer for a three-part series called "The Swap", broadcast on Australia's SBS.

A description of the show on SBS's website reads: "Six students from Australia's largest Islamic school swap places with six students from Catholic colleges and a secular state high school to bridge cross-cultural divides."

The trailer featuring the clip, titled "The Swap | Attending Prayers", was posted on SBS's Facebook page on March 6.

Queensland's Department of Education posted about the documentary on Facebook, describing it as an "experimental school swap".

A spokesperson for the department said that students and parents gave their consent to take part in the show and "were pleased to be a part of the unique cultural experience".

"No objections or concerns have been raised by participants or the wider school community," they told AFP in an email on March 17.

Two of the Queensland schools that took part in the documentary, Ferny Grove and Padua College, posted about their students' experiences.

"We are honoured to have been involved in this groundbreaking documentary series, and a big thanks to both families involved," Padua College wrote on Facebook.

The Islamic College of Brisbane's Kadri, who steered the concept of the series, said he was "disappointed by the misinformation" about the project.

"The idea of the Swap was to introduce young children to each other’s practices and build respect for them," he told AFP.

"As such, when the non-Muslim students visited the Islamic College of Brisbane, they joined a prayer session. Conversely, when Muslim students visited a Christian school they participated in a Catholic mass."

He added all students who participated in the series had "explicit and full permission from their parents and schools".