Birmingham schools: the ‘plot’ thickens

April 16, 2014 at 5:34 pm (Brum, children, Education, islamism, labour party, posted by JD, religion, secularism, unions, youth)

Events surrounding the so-called Trojan Horse allegations in Birmingham have taken a further, bizarre, twist with the appointment, yesterday, of Peter Clarke, former head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, to investigate claims about the city’s schools.

Regular readers will remember our previous , very cautious, coverage of the Trojan Horse document, which purports to be a letter from a Birmingham-based Islamic fundamentalist to a contact in Bradford, describing tactics used to take over Birmingham schools and boasting of success in forcing out head teachers who resisted the islamification of their schools: the document talks about forcing out the leadership team where a school is “corrupting their children with sex education , teaching about homosexuals, making children pray Christian prayers and [carrying out] mixed swimming and sport.”  We have already pointed out that the letter, which contains some accurate information not previously in the public domain, but also some inaccuracies, may be a hoax.

Last week the city council announced a freeze on the recruitment of school governors while it investigates the claims into at least 25 schools, including three run by the Park View Educational Trust. The council stated that it had received more than 200 reports in relation to its enquiry and has appointed former  head teacher Ian Kershaw to head up the investigation. Council leader Albert Bore stated that “there are certainly issues in Bradford which have similarities with the issues being spoken about in Birmingham.” He also went on to express frustration with the council’s lack of influence over academies, stating “we do not have the relationship with academies as we do with community schools.”

Then yesterday, Michael Gove announced the appointment of Pater Clarke to head what is, in effect, a parallel investigation. Albert Bore, together with West Midlands Chief Constable Chris Sims and Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood, immediately condemned the appointment, with Bore stating that Sims’ anti-terror background would “inevitably” lead people to “draw unwarranted conclusions.” The area’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Labour’s Bob Jones, added, “My main concern is that the Secretary of State is attempting to divert attention away from the governance and diversity issues that might be embarrassing to his policies and approach to school governance.”

Bore, Jones and the others are undoubtedly right about this “desperately unfortunate” appointment, and about the hypocrisy of Gove who promotes academies (and now free schools)  outside the control of local authorities, whilst simultaneously decrying the influence of Islamic extremists over  academies in Birmingham.

And it is important to note that whether or not the Trojan Horse document proves to be genuine, there is no doubt about the influence of Islamic fundamentalists over many Birmingham schools: teachers and other school staff members have already come forward with reports of segregation of boys and girls in classes and assemblies, bans on sex education and bullying of non-Muslim staff. Shiraz Socialist has spoken to several Birmingham teachers, including activists within the main teaching unions, who have confirmed that these claims are true and, in some cases, such things have been going on for years. The all-too predictable line taken by an article in today’s Guardian (“Despite reasonable evidence suggesting the plot letter is a hoax, it has spaked debate in the city, with far right groups looking to capitalise”) simply will not do: the concerns about Islamic fundamentalists undermining secular education are not the preserve of the far right, but are felt by teachers, Labour councillors and MPs and -not least – many Muslim parents who want their kids to have an inclusive, secular education.

12 Comments

  1. s4r4hbrown said,

    Yes, it’s not enough to say the letter is a ‘hoax’. It *may* still reflect and document some real problems. But I didn’t care for this quotation from a government spokesperson.

    ‘A child who is brought up, age eight, nine, ten, believing that you should segregate the sexes and hand out Islamic textbooks is more likely to be radicalised in later life.

    ‘Islamic textbooks’ could include all sorts of materials, and it is rather insulting to assume they are all inflammatory even if it’s naive to assume that none will be problematic.

  2. Mike Killingworth said,

    The problem is broader than any one city, or than any one area of life (in this case, schooling).

    For many, but not all, Muslims, their religion can only be practised in a country which Muslims have conquered: hence, after all, the partition of the sub-continent in the late 1940s.

    I don’t particularly want my Muslim neighbours – of whom I have many, almost all Arabs – to despise me as an infidel, but if I have any pretence to liberty of conscience, I must accept their right to do so. Fortunately, many are prepared to say “thank you” (in English) when I give way to them – bit I have no right to expect them to do so. Conquest, after all, is part of the human condition.

  3. Vigdis Rødgrød said,

    given the loathing of wahabi/salafi for anything with the vaguest smell of ‘greek philosophy’, the alleged ‘trojan horse’ plot has bullshit plastered sll over it.

    • Rosie said,

      I thought that too, but then found it used by an Islamic literalist:-

      “There are of course many dimensions and underlying paradoxes that ought-to be exposed in the discourse of the White-masked veiled feminist movement however we will leave these for future articles. In the second part of this article, I will look at the discourse of women’s rights as a subtle Trojan horse being dragged into the Muslim world.”

      http://www.5pillarz.com/2014/04/17/white-masks-and-muslim-veils-the-perplexing-case-of-the-muslim-feminist/

      So evidently it’s just a common idiom among native English speakers.

      Also, it’s not “greek philosophy” but a Greek myth. We use terms from The Thousand and one nights, like flying carpet, genie out of the bottle, Scherherazade etc.

  4. Matthew Thompson said,

    I accept the points about academies and hypocrisy but if the DfE is going to investigate I’m not sure why someone who once worked in anti-terrorist policing should be automatically excluded from the job of doing so.

    • Mike Killingworth said,

      Because it implies that the answer has already been decided?

      • Matthew Thompson said,

        I don’t see that: he’s not an anti-terrorist policeman now. Can’t we be a bit more nuanced/sophisticated? Presumably he’s been hired for his investigatory skills rather than his record in catching Islamist bombers, it seems slightly tenuous to link the two to me.

  5. Birmingham Schools, Islam and Secularism. | Tendance Coatesy said,

    […] first is Shiraz Socialist’s defence of  secular […]

  6. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    Have you Muslimparanoiacs (note, not Islamaphobes) ever wondered why you write about Muslim fundamentalists so much and so little about fundamentalists from other religions such as Christian (e.g. Christian brethren) or Hindu (e.g. the VHP – mates with many a MP).

    I don’t doubt your commitment, as mine, to a secular and socialist society. What I do think you suffer from is naiveté. Has it ever occurred to you that your concentration on the sins of Islam (in fact, Muslims) dates from same time period as that of the Daily Mail – over the last 10 years or so? You are unwittingly following their agenda but just putting a ‘left’ spin on it.

    Let me demonstrate that more by giving a couple of exclusive extracts from Shiraz Socialist from previous years to show how you also were then no more then the leftist dupes of the ruling-class hegemony directed against various ‘enemy withins’ of those periods.

    21/1/1981. Today’s Scarman Report into the Brixton Riots from April of this year tells us nothing new, but is maybe a little surprising for a report from such a source to so clearly outline the daily racism that black youth face from the Police.

    We join them in the struggle against such injustice but we would also be failing in our socialist duty if we did not equally condemn the appalling rise of the Rastafarianism religion in recent times, with its second-class treatment of women, amongst these victims of state harassment.

    You cannot but help but notice the numbers of black women who have adopted the Rastafarian mode of dress over the last few years and we stand in solidarity with the sisters who we are sure are keen to remove these head-dresses. In addition, reports have reached of us of Rastafarian parents keen to ensure their children eat no pork at school. We demand no quarter be given to these backward demands and that an exclusively secular education be maintained; including the state taking control of the haircuts of the vulnerable young people – this should include the shaving of dreadlocks from all those under 16 as we do not think these children should be forced to wear their hair in this unhygienic fashion because of parental decision.

    12/8/1905 Yesterday’s passage of the Aliens Act is a major blow against the social democrat (i.e. Marxist) policy of ‘no borders’ and is built on the most foul anti-Semitism which is openly expressed in the most graphic terms in many papers. We stand in solidarity with Jews and from that position would like to offer some words of advice that will assist in lessening the casual anti-Semitism that is common amongst non-Jewish workers in east London and elsewhere.

    As it is the case that some Orthodox Jewish women go bald (but wear a wig) because of religious teaching, we would fail in our socialist duty if we did not rail against such practices. We demand the state take control of haircuts for women in danger of this assault on their hair. Furthermore, the cutting of the foreskins (or Male Genital Mutilation, as we christen it) should be a criminal offence. It is important that socialists – Jewish or non Jewish – prioritise campaigning against such backward measures, not least to counter the synagaogue-led backward politics that threatens to make the Brick Lane, Whitechapel area into a ghetto that will entrap Jews to remain there in poverty, and beholden to the patronage of ‘community leaders’, for generations to come.

    It has been a while since we Reds where one of the main ‘enemies within’, maybe since the 70s and 80s with its ‘unions holding the country to ransom’ or ‘loony left-wingers’ but, more seriously, possibly since the days of the Zinoviev letter.

    If you don’t correct your method of tailing the lead of the bourgeoisie hegemonists, I will look forward to seeing, if the Left picks up big support, how you will deal with putting a ‘left’ spin on their latest subject of attack – when a ‘main enemy’ then is the Left itself! Although such is your abuse to Trotskyists already, I can guess what your approach will be.

    • Jim Denham said,

      1/ Shiraz Socialist has frequently attacked Christian religious fundamentalism, and Catholicism (including Catholic education). If it was Christian fundamentalists who were attempting to impose their ideology upon Birmingham schools at the moment, we’d most certainly be on their case.

      2/ The spoof stuff about the Scarman Report, etc, is just silly and irrelevant. None of it is in any way comparable to systematic attempts to indoctrinate kids via schools.

  7. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    1. I don’t know how many schools follow what I understand to still be the law – a daily act of Christian worship for all except the few who are withdrawn.

    Many must still do this. If there is an imposed religious ideology in schools, it’s Christian more than anything although the main ideology is capitalist ( I recall well learning about the ‘excitable continentals who have revolutions, whereas we are more civilised’ and that was in the relatively liberal 70s).

    2. No I write some stuff in 2 from memory. The ‘problem with lumpen black youth’ was a never-quite stated theme of some left comment then. In fact it was tail-ending the ‘beware the black muggers, rapist, absent fathers’ agenda of the Mail then when blacks were the focus of articles it writes about Muslims now. The Jewish example is just a ‘translation’ of the Muslim and Black stuff.

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