‘Organised campaign’ to impose Islam in UK


Conservative Muslim school leaders in Britain’s second city, Birmingham, conducted an “organised campaign” to impose faith-based ideology on their pupils, Education Secretary Michael Gove says.


Clashes between Muslim governors and non-Muslim senior staff had led to a “culture of fear and intimidation” in which some headteachers felt forced to leave their jobs, leaving those remaining free to impose a narrow curriculum, the minister said on Monday.

Gove was reporting the findings of two investigations into allegations of an Islamist plot to take over the leadership of state-funded schools in Birmingham with the intention of imposing a religious agenda.

The claims renew concerns about the risk to young people in Britain of Islamic extremism, and expose a rift at the heart of the government about how to tackle religious radicalism.

However, some community leaders in Birmingham, a former industrial centre which has one of Britain’s largest Muslim communities, said the row was baseless and driven by Islamophobia.

Inspections by Ofsted, the schools watchdog, concluded five schools were providing an “inadequate” standard of education due to failings chief inspector of schools Michael Wilshaw said were “deeply worrying”.

“Ofsted states that head teachers reported an organised campaign to target schools in order to alter their character and ethos, with a culture of fear and intimidation,” Gove told the House of Commons.

“Ofsted concluded that governors are trying to impose and promote a narrow, faith-based ideology in what are non-faith schools, specifically by narrowing the curriculum, manipulating staff appointments, and in using school funds inappropriately.”

A separate report by the Education Funding Agency, a branch of the education ministry, revealed that at one school the Muslim call to prayers was broadcast across the playground.

School funds at another, Oldknow Academy in the majority Muslim Small Heath district, were used for an annual trip to Saudi Arabia open only to Muslim pupils, while the words “white prostitute” were used in one assembly.

The EFA also found Oldknow had tried to cover up its activities by putting on a special Easter assembly and a lesson on Christianity when inspectors paid their visit.

The educational trust that runs three of the five condemned schools – not including Oldknow – rejected the findings, and reacted angrily to the implication pupils were at risk of extremism.

David Hughes, vice-chairman of the Park View Education Trust, said: “Ofsted inspectors came to our schools looking for extremism, looking for segregation, looking for proof that our children have religion forced upon them as part of an Islamic plot.

He said “this is categorically not what is happening at our schools. Our schools do not tolerate or promote extremism of any kind.”

The investigations were sparked by an anonymous letter leaked to the media earlier this year, which alleged a “Trojan Horse” plot to take over Birmingham schools.

The government responded by ordering inspections across 21 schools in Birmingham, where 22 per cent of the population is Muslim, according to the 2011 census.

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