LONDON — A report released on Monday concluded that pressure from fundamentalist Islamic school board governors had created a culture of “fear and intimidation” among senior staff members in a number of British schools said to have been the targets of a campaign to impose Islamist views on parts of the educational system.
The report, compiled by Britain’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, or Ofsted, stopped short of concluding that such a campaign amounted to a conspiracy, as alleged by an anonymous letter that first raised the alarm. But the results of the inquiry gave weight to concerns in Britain that schools have become the latest battleground in the effort to head off radicalization of young Muslims, an issue that has grown increasingly prominent as more young Britons and Europeans have chosen to fight with Islamic groups in Syria.
Tahir Alam is allegedly the man behind a blueprint for the ‘Trojan Horse’ plot for the radical ‘Islamisation’ of secular state schools. An alleged plot to takeover some of Britain’s schools by Islamist extremists has been reportedly masterminded by a ringleader who had drafted a guide document on the process, a media report has said. Tahir Alam, chairman of governors at Park View school in Birmingham, is allegedly the man behind a blueprint for the so-called “Trojan Horse” plot for the radical “Islamisation” of secular state schools. He called for “girls [to] be covered except for their hands and faces”, advocated gender segregation in some school activities, and attacked a “multicultural approach” to collective worship, the Sunday Telegraph’ reported. In his 72-page document, published by the Muslim Council of Britain in 2007, Tahir Alam and co-author Muhammad Abdul Bari categorically attacked many state schools for not being “receptive of legitimate and reasonable requests made by some Muslim parents and pupils in relation to their faith-based aspirations and concerns”. They described how Muslim governors could be activated to press the “views and aspirations of Muslim parents and the local community” on reluctant schools. Birmingham has a large Muslim population, nearly 22 per cent, according to the 2011 census. The “Trojan Horse” plot had come to light recently and involves the alleged takeover of secular state schools and the removal of secular head teachers in Birmingham by radical Muslim staff and governors.
There are more Methodist schools than Muslim schools in England and 33% of English state schools are Christian. There’s been a big kerfuffle over a supposed Muslim influence on six schools in Birmingham, with outlets like the BBC and Telegraph alleging a “Trojan horse” takeover by Muslim parents. But whether you agree with religion in schools or not, the faith that is most clearly represented in Britain’s education system is Christianity. There are more Methodist schools (26 or 0.13%) than Muslim schools in England. Out of the total number of state-funded schools (primary and secondary) in England this is what percentage were Muslim in 2012. Some 0.06% or 12 schools are Muslim faith schools. Out of all UK state-funded schools, 33.61% or 6751 schools are Christian. School segregation: 12% of state schools are split into boys and girls. Charges against the six schools in Birmingham include not teaching the curriculum, inviting radical speakers to talk to the children and gender segregating classrooms – to the detriment of girls. A small, but significant number of traditional British schools are split by gender too.
The man accused of being at the centre of the plot, Faisal Khan, has denied the allegations, saying his sole motive was to improve the standards at schools and that he had no wish to “Islamize” British schools. British authorities are now investigating the alleged plot. UK Education Secretary Michael Gove appointed Peter Clarke, former head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, to lead the probe. The appointment of Clarke has faced criticism, with critics saying the move has resulted in rising fears over a possible government crackdown on Muslim communities in the UK. There are concerns that the plan could prevent ordinary Muslims from getting involved in their children’s schooling affairs for fear of being branded extremist.
“The idea that MCB document was a Communist or Trotskyite-type plot to takeover all Birmingham/UK schools is laughable. This feeds into a wider ‘counter-jihadist’ (Breivik, EDL, etc) narrative that Muslims want to “take over”. To describe the handbook as ‘a document on manipulating teachers and curriculum’ or ‘a detailed blueprint for the radical “Islamisation” of secular state schools’, as Sunday Telegraph says, is an insult to the many thousands of professionals and lay people who have been involved over the last ten years in the massive improvements in the educational achievement of young Muslim people. There is a level of hysteria building which is not justified, we need to take the temperature down and politicians must not play with these issues or else face a potential backlash, possibly in community cohesion.” Abdul Bari
The whole saga is outrageous, beyond belief and frankly if it was not so serious, it would be comical. The documents on which this whole action is perused is false and as there is no proof of extremism in schools, Mr Gove has made it illegal for Muslims to have conservative views (coming from a minister of conservative government, its comical really). Feel like we are back in the fifties in the USA again. Michael Gove is an avowed Zionist which is not the best way to approach issues like this! Because it can lead greater attacks on Islam. It amazes me that on the basis of an anonymous letter the whole country has been lead to believe that there is an organised plot to somehow take over schools, now allegedly across the length and breadth of Britain! Furthermore the amount of coverage that this has received from the media as being a credible story, to me, suggests the level of Islamophobia in our society has reached alarming and dangerous heights. I would suggest that for the sake of fairness, equality and justice all schools are subject to the same level of scrutiny. For example Christian, C-of-E, Jewish and Hindu, Sikh schools. I believe that this not only a witch hunt but a move to tarnish and undermine the credibility of Muslims in general and the noble teachings of a widely practiced and rapidly growing religion which a people devotedly choose to follow. Islamophobia should be stopped – especially when the racist is a government minister or department. you must share this island with many people, why does it belong to one people? Grammar schools regularly carry out gender segregation, shall we remove those Head teachers too.
The horse in question, it is alleged, contained Muslim extremism – brought to state schools by stealth, by governor bodies launching subtle pincer movements, to remove the kind of pesky teachers who might object to the segregation of pupils by sex, or a refusal to stick to the syllabus. How incredibly extremist. Schools where segregation of pupils by sex occur. How different from boy’s only Grammar schools and High schools for Girls that exist in predominately Conservative areas. And that exist predominately in the private school sector. It does though surely produce better exam results, as pupils are less influenced by the idea of ‘girl’s subjects’ and ‘boy’s subjects’, and are less likely to be distracted by sex. Allegations of an Islamic takeover plot of Birmingham schools are just the latest in a string of slurs against Muslims. It is not clear what is meant by an “Islamic plot takeover”, and whether that is the same thing as saying or hinting that some Muslims might want to get some schools to adopt their particular version of Islamic religious values, behaviours and life-styles. If it is the latter, that would not necessarily be an indication of “terrorism”, so I struggle to see the need for ‘counter-terrorism’ input. It is not terrorism in any way shape or form. It is important to remember this is not about Islam as such but yet another chance to bash people perceived as foreigners. To many Muslim is another word for immigrant and coloured person, two terrible bugbears. Why should an unnamed, undated, unspecific source has effected students, teachers, governors, parents in one swoop. It has serious implications on unfounded accusations for hundreds of people. In no way shape or form is this right, nor should have it EVER happened. Just by a anonymous letter how can you judge the schools and it is bringing such bad vibe to Birmingham schools and local Muslim community we feel like we’re targets no matter how hard we try we will never please and move forward from the terrorist labelling. I am disgusted at the way these particular schools and governors were targeted for no reason other than being Muslim. No solid evidence wa available to substantiate these accusations which arose and yet such great weight and focus was attached to them. Morally unjust and utterly unacceptable. The Trojan Horse document was clearly written by someone who knows little about Birmingham and even less about Islam. It has chimed, however, with widespread Islamophobic fantasies and fears amongst non-Muslims, and as a result of unethical reporting in the media has done much damage.
On the one hand we get told we are not integrating enough and we should engage more in civic society. On the other, when we do, we get accused of having sinister agendas. Since when do concerns by religiously conservative parents about teaching on homosexuality, girls and boys mixing, and the reciting of prayers, require anti-terrorist experts to get involved? Allegations of an Islamic takeover plot in Birmingham schools aren’t justified by the evidence – and the government response is way out of proportion. Perhaps its best to let the Muslim community sort these issues out. These are in effect Muslim schools now. It is up to the Muslim community to see off hard liners (if there are any) otherwise it is their own children’s’ education that will suffer. I think it would be very difficult for non Muslims to get involved either as governors or management so perhaps that it is one of the reasons for the conflicts that have arisen. It may be best for the Government to but out providing the record of the school is O.K. from an exam point of view. I am so disgusted that even after it was proved there is no factual evidence or basis for that racist and hate filled document, schools in Birmingham are being subjected to this horrific ordeal and the name of many good reputable teachers is being tarnished… Why? Clearly viewable that this accusation has been purposely placed on these schools which surprisingly consists of majority Muslim children. Clearly the school policies are being contradicted by Mr Gove as they clearly state that it is the schools priority and job to meet the needs of the local community and of the students within the school. So if a school is doing that then what is the issue? What is happening feels like the persecution of a religious group. This is important because the wit hunt feeds Islamophobia. As we can see from the bombings and arson attacks on mosques in the UK, Islamophobia is a very dangerous and divisive form of racism. I’m sick of this hatred of Islam and Muslims. Haters, ignorant scum, look for any means to target Muslims, now even in our schools. It’s a joke and this has to stop. How hypocritical does a country have to be to illegally invade Muslim countries and then accuse Muslims of terrorism? I am a Muslim. I am an anti-terrorist.
I never realised how racist and anti-Islamic this country is until I moved here. These people are here legally and have the right to live how they want to. Just because there are terrorists who use Islam as a doctrine to justify their hateful acts, does NOT mean that every Islam wants to change Britain to Sharia Law, kill the gays and put all women in burkas! These people are being judged and punished for the actions of others that have nothing to do with them, simply because they are of the same religion. Do you judge Germans in the same way because their country committed genocide? Or the Irish if they are from an area where religious conflict was particularly violent? No. Seems like thinly veiled racism to me, not the ‘staunch upholding of British rights against religious extremists’ as you all seem to espouse. What do people mean when they talk about ‘multiculturalism’? If a lot of people come from a foreign country and settle in a particular area they will bring the culture of that country with them. Of course they will want their schools to promote their values. Gender segregation is everywhere in the Muslim world including in EU applicant, Turkey, so either we believe in Britain as multicultural or we don’t. You don’t get to pick and choose the bits you want. Why not sit down with parents and listen to their concerns, instead of ordering an investigation? Shocked at this terrifying witch hunt against Muslims who are simply trying to raise standards. Its totally unacceptable to create a furore in the country over anonymous accusations with no proof. Because it is a divisive move and will affect community relations. This is the very reason why society does not function properly, this is a deliberate attempt to spread fear amongst communities, as the best way to control a nation is through fear itself. because this is NOT ,,I repeat is NOT an Islamic plot to take over Birmingham, so DO NOT put false information in the media to put Muslims down!!!!! What next…..Muslims taking over hospitals, banks, pubs….come on… Tomorrow, a Pakistani MP would become the PM of GB and this does not mean that the country has become a colony of Pakistan.
What’s taking place is an absolute disgrace. This whole witch hunt is putting Muslims off from becoming governors at a time when it is need the most. Why should Muslim parents be targeted when all they want at the end of the day is a good all round education for their children. Before Muslims governors came on to the scene all the inner city schools were doing poorly and failing all the children of the school. Muslim parents were criticised for their lack of involvement in their children’s schools. Now they are being vilified. It is an absolute disgrace that an ex anti terrorist police office has been brought in to investigate the situation. It stinks of racism and the desire to label all Muslims into the category of extremist and jihadist. What a disgrace by the national and the local government. It’s wrong for Gove to be deliberately politicising our Education system. All our children deserve respect and not to be scapegoated. What a total waste of tax payers money and tactical manoeuvre by Michael Gove to divert attention away from the real issues. Gove’s war is designed to destabilise governing bodies where Muslims form a majority. Don’t want us to be part of ‘big society’? We totally reject the idea that there is Muslim plot to take over Birmingham schools. We abhor the scapegoating of the Muslim community being whipped up by the media. We call for the removal of Peter Clarke as we believe this is a provocative appointment, designed to divide our community. I don’t believe that there is an Islamic Plot to take over Birmingham schools. It’s a set-up. Anonymous complaints have been used in the past to hound good head teachers of community schools out of their jobs in order to facilitate the creation of academies. This whole story smells of falsification and corruption. I suspect that the people wishing to take over schools are not Islamic extremists, but Academy Chains with business interests. A shamefully irresponsible and sensationalised inquiry whose adverse impact on community relations locally and nationally will sadly be lingering long and far.
If British authorities are so concerned about their education institutions being infiltrated by “extremists” then I suggest they stop Tony Blair, architect in chief of the illegal and violent 2003 Iraq invasion from speaking at colleges and universities across the UK and the world. His lies and fabrications caused the deaths, directly and indirectly, of thousands of Iraqis, British and Americans. While the survivors of his wars suffer in silence, this former British Prime Minister makes millions through his speaking engagements at educational institutions across the world with little or no sign of remorse for the suffering he caused. Nothing I see in the above articles suggests the British Muslim educators in question did anything illegal, let alone anywhere as remotely destructive as the twice elected British Prime Minister. Britain’s interests would be served better if they questioned their own domestic and overseas policies instead of perennially whining on about “extremist” from their (mostly) law abiding immigrant communities.
There are a total of 21300 Primary and 3900 Secondary schools in the UK. Finding that 6 out of these 25200 had board members who wanted to push their extremist views over the governance of those school is not a Islamic Plot or Trojan Horse to Islamises UK. This is a massive overreaction and the Islamophobia on display in the comments is more terrifying than the actual case itself. Stop the racist witch hunt in Birmingham schools. We Muslims have a right to our religion. I decry everything which denigrates Muslims in this country. The media and governmental attitudes and actions, inflame prejudice and ignorance. We want the best for our children and such baseless witch hunt of school governors does not help the cause of better education.
Stop this hate against Muslims. It is not them who are terrorists , but all those who imply they are with the help of media you try bringing others to your side giving false details – twin towers wasn’t Muslim either – that was the Americans – you will not win as Islam Will forever grow and prove it is peaceful through the will of God (Allah SWT)… amen. This is undermining confidence in the Muslim community and increasing Islamophobia. This is another example of the media whipping up hysteria against the UK Muslim community. The way our Govt treating British Muslims is as if all Muslims are terrorists unless they prove otherwise. Govt should focus on its job. Governors of this school worked hard to help a failing school achieve outstanding rating from Ofsted. Please fix Ofsted and stop demonising Muslims. Nick Clegg on LBC radio indicated that the DFE is full of right wing ideologues and extremist loons. Islamic schools protect Muslim children from the onslaught of Euro centrism, homosexuality, racism, and secular traditions. All education systems appear to be indoctrination systems. I went to a good private school. Guess how we were ‘encouraged’ to think about politics! Having a Muslim name in UK is a crime. All UK job application forms have sections ask your race and religions. Most UK employers simply reject your applications just by looking at this section.
Native Brits must learn to respect and tolerate those who are different. The needs and demands of the Muslim community are different from those of natives. Muslims are in Britain not to give up their cultural heritage. They must integrate in their new home country, learn new languages and apply for political representation — without forgetting their cultural heritage. It is important to learn Standard English, but their languages should not be neglected. They need Masajid and grave yards. Muslim children not only need halal meat or Eid Holidays but they need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their development period also. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.
A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit. The whole world belongs to Muslims. He/she must learn and be well versed in Standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. At the same time, he/she must learn and be well versed in Arabic, Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural heritage and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry. For a Muslim English is an economic language and Arabic is a religious while Urdu and other community languages are their social and emotional languages.
Muslim children not only need halal meat or Eid Holidays but they need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their development period also. There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This means the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islamic teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children like discipline, structure and boundaries. Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand their needs and demands. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. Legally, the state has an obligation to respect the rights of parents to ensure that ‘education and teaching(of their children) is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.’ The schools must satisfy the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural needs of Muslim pupils. State schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers are not in a position to satisfy their needs. A good school is not just a knowledge factory or a conveyor belt for churning out exam passes – it is a community, a family. A community is held together by common values and principles.
London School of Islamics Trust