Islamist school plot: the frightening facts
A fanatical group, ‘The Parkview Brotherhood’, is identified in a damning interim report
AN investigation ordered by the government has found a “sustained, coordinated agenda to impose segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline, politicised strain of Sunni Islam” on children in a number of Birmingham schools.
According to the Guardian, a draft of the report, marked as “sensitive”, states:
Left unchecked, it would confine schoolchildren within an intolerant, inward-looking monoculture that would severely inhibit their participation in the life of modern Britain.
The inquiry, conducted by the former counter-terrorism chief Peter Clarke, was ordered by the former education secretary Michael Gove and began in April. Clarke gathered 2,000 documents and generated 2,000 pages of interview transcripts from 50 witnesses, including former headteachers, teachers, council staff and school governors. He did not interview parents or pupils.He said:
The level of distress and anxiety felt by the witnesses cannot be overstated.
Clarke denies the report is Islamophobic, saying the evidence shows a group of governors and senior teachers represented a form of Muslim extremism rejected by most Muslims in east Birmingham.
He argues it was likely that most parents did not approve of the culture imposed in the schools, but they:
Did not have the confidence to argue against the articulate, forceful activists who seek to impose their views, for fear of being branded as disloyal to their faith or community.
He claims the offending ideology:
Manifests itself as the imposition of an aggressively separatist and intolerant agenda incompatible with full participation in a plural secular democracy.
It rejects not only the secular and other religions, but other strains of Islamic belief:
It goes beyond the social conservatism practised in some faith schools which may be consistent with universal human rights and respectful of other communities. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to convert secular state schools into exclusive faith schools in all but name.
He says there is:
Very clear evidence that young people are being encouraged to accept unquestionably a particular hardline strand of Sunni Islam that raises concerns about their vulnerability to radicalisation in the future. Essentially the ideology revealed by this investigation is an intolerant and politicised form of extreme social conservatism that ultimately seeks to control all Muslims. In its separatist assertions and attempts to subvert normal processes it amounts to what is often described as Islamism.
The agenda, but not the tactics, involved stem from an international movement to increase the role of Islam in education.
Two organisations identified by Clarke as being behind the movement are the Muslim Council of Britain and the Association of Muslim Schools – UK.
Clarke says he:
Took possession of the contents of a social media discussion between a group of teachers at Park View that for much of 2013 was called the Park View Brotherhood.
The evidence from 3,000 messages spread over 130 pages of transcripts shows this group either promoted, or failed to challenge, views that are grossly intolerant of beliefs and practices other than their own. The all-male group discussions include explicit homophobia, highly offensive comments about British service personnel, a stated ambition to increase segregation at the school, disparagement of Muslims in sectors other than their own, scepticism about the truth of reports of the murder of Lee Rigby and the Boston bombings and a constant under current of anti-Western, anti-America and anti-Israel sentiment.
The report gives examples of this social media chat, and adds:
The endorsements of links to extremists speakers betray a collective mindset that can fairly be described as an Islamist approach that denied the validity of alternative belief.
He says that, based on their comments, some members of Park View staff seemed to believe the Rigby murder was a staged event or hoax and:
Exhorted their colleagues to spread videos promulgating this view ‘to all your contacts’.
The Clarke report names Tahir Alam (pictured top) as being a key player in the plot:
He has exerted influence at Park View school for many years, and has been a governor since the 1990s. He promoted the concept that schools can be changed to accommodate the faith needs of Muslim pupils by increasing Muslim representation on governing bodies and insisting on changes to faith ethos. Many of the governors who have caused most difficulty on governing bodies have connections to Mr Alam and Park View school.
Time and again people who have either been teachers or governors at Park View [Academy] appear to be involved in behaviour at other schools that have destabilised headteachers, sometimes leading to their resignation or removal. The tactics that have been used are too similar, the individuals concerned are too closely linked and the behaviour of a few parents and governors too orchestrated for there not to be a degree of coordination behind what has happened.
There has been a coordinated, deliberate and sustained action carried out by a number of associated individuals to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into a few schools in Birmingham.
This has been gained by achieving influence on governing bodies, installing sympathetic headteachers or senior members of staff, appointing like-minded people to key positions and seeking to remove headteachers they do not feel to be sufficiently compliant with their agenda. Whether the motivation reflects a political agenda, a deeply held religious conviction, personal gain or achieving influence within the communities, the effect has been to limit the life chances of the young people in their care and to render them vulnerable to more pernicious influences in the future.
Manifestations of extremism in the schools outlined in the report include:
• Anti-Western rhetoric, particularly anti-US and anti-Israel.
• Segregationism – dividing the world into us and them, with them to include all non-Muslims and Muslims who disagree.
• Perception of a worldwide conspiracy against Muslims.
• Attempts to impose its views and practices upon others.
• Intolerance of difference, whether the secular, other religions or other Muslims.
His report is also highly critical of Birmingham City Council:
A consistent theme that has emerged throughout the investigation is that for many years there has been a perception that Birmingham City Council has been insufficiently supportive of headteachers – and indeed of governors when problems arise with the conduct of some member of governing bodies. There was never a serious attempt to see if there was a pattern to what was happening in school governing bodies. The council’s approach has been variously described to me as appeasement and a failure in their duty of care towards their employees.
Clarke adds that, on the basis of emails and correspondence he has seen:
There is incontrovertible evidence that both senior officials and elected members of Birmingham council were aware of activities that bear a striking resemblance to those described in the Trojan horse letter many months before it surfaced.
He concludes the practices referred to in the letter were known by senior officials as early as the end of 2012 and discussions took place between officials and elected members as early as July 2013, six months before the letter was received by the leader of the council.
Eight weeks after the letter was received there was no systematic attempt to deal with the issue. Clarke discloses that:
Officers have conceded that it did not consider carefully enough, nor soon enough, whether there was a pattern in what was happening in a number of schools.
The focus of the council was on the potential of the community cohesion aspects, he concludes.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn