London, Aug. 9 - To help combat terrorism, the British government isproposing an enormous expansion of the number of Muslim schools within itsstate sector, a London newspaper has reported.

The Sunday Telegraph report says that the government is thinking ofcreating up to 150 Muslim schools within the state sector in an attempt tobring them more into the mainstream of British life.

It would in effect be a government takeover bid for independent Muslimschools, many of which are hampered by a shortage of funds and some of whichconcentrate on study of the Quran to the detriment of a more basiccurriculum.

At present there are only five Muslim schools within the state sector.The first, Islamia school in North London, founded by the singer Cat Stevens(Yusuf Islam), was granted state recognition in 1998.

Of the nearly 14,000 state primary and secondary schools in England andWales (Scotland has a separate educational system), roughly half are run bychurches and other faith communities: 4,600 are Church of England(Anglican), 2,100 Catholic, with a handful of Methodist and other Christianschools. There are 31 Jewish schools and two Sikh schools.

Asked at a press conference last Friday whether Muslim state schoolsshould continue, Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "We are actually looking tomake sure that faith schools are very much incorporated into the mainstream,and that should apply to all categories of faith school.

"The point is to encourage as much of that in the mainstream.

We arehaving a discussion about how that operates."

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly is expected to announce detailedproposals this autumn.