Archive for the ‘Secularism’ Category
Shahid Akmal, “white women have the least amount of morals.”
The Birmingham Mail has just revealed another scandal behind the ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations,
Undercover report reveals Birmingham school chief claimed women are ‘emotionally weaker’ and that British people have ‘colonial blood’.
By Nick Sommerlad
One of the ringleaders of the Islamist plot to take over British schools is exposed today as a sexist, racist bigot.
School chief Shahid Akmal told an undercover reporter from Birmingham Mail sister paper the Mirror, that “white women have the least amount of morals”, white children were “lazy” and that British people have “colonial blood”.
Akmal claimed that women were “emotionally weaker” than men and that their role was to look after children and the home.
He defended jailing or exiling gays and adulterers under Sharia Law as a “moral position to hold”.
Until he was removed last week, Akmal was the chairman of governors at Nansen Primary School in Birmingham, where music was banned and inspectors found pupils were not sufficiently protected from radicalisation.
The hardliner revealed he has plans to set up a series of after-school tuition centres to instil “our morals and our values and our principles” in impressionable youngsters.
Over a series of meetings, Akmal made a string of extraordinary statements and defended Britons fighting in Syria and Iraq as “freedom fighters”.
In a defiant attack, Akmal claimed the Government wanted to keep Muslims “suppressed” so they are easier to control.
Asked if white children were lazy he said: “Exactly. Thank you very much. And they don’t want to accept that.” He insisted: “I tell you, our women are much, much better consciously in the heart than any white women.
“White women have the least amount of morals.”
He argued that girls should be taught skills like cooking and sewing while boys should be taught trades like construction and mechanics.
Akmal attacked women who became “high flying” politicians: “She has to sacrifice her family, she has to sacrifice her children, she has to sacrifice her husband, all in the name of equality. And there are so many marriages that have broken up because of this.”
He appeared to defend British Muslims joining rebels in Syria and Iraq, despite official warnings of a terrorism threat when they return to the UK.
He said: “The fact that he has gone there to fight, they say that he is supporting terrorists. Because they don’t believe in the freedom fight.”
The alleged Trojan Horse plotters had been attacked for “wanting the best for our children”, claimed Akmal. He said: “They basically don’t want the children to do any better because they will demand education, they will demand better qualifications, they will want to go to Oxford and Cambridge and that’s a white only place. Very few non-whites go there.
“They want to keep us suppressed. It’s easier to control. If you get education you get a mind. When you get a mind, you ask questions. They don’t like that.
This comes as the Clarke report into Birmingham schools was formally presented.
Amongst its findings ITN highlights this,
Teachers at schools involved in the ‘Trojan Horse’ investigation allegedly claimed the murder of Lee Rigby was “some kind of staged event or hoax”, according to a government report.
The report’s author, retired counter-terrorism officer Peter Clarke, analysed the contents of a social media discussion between teachers at Park View School who called themselves ‘The Park View Brotherhood’.
The teachers allegedly joked about Lee Rigby’s death on the WhatsApp messaging service. Credit: Daniel Reinhardt/DPA/Press Association Images
Clarke’s report says the group of teachers exchanged “highly offensive comments about British service personnel” on the WhatsApp messaging service.
He also described the general contents of the teachers’ discussions as “grossly intolerant of beliefs and practices other than their own”.
School chiefs and parents ‘involved in promoting Islam’
Last updated Tue 22 Jul 2014
Governors, deputy and acting headteachers, trustees and parents were involved in a pattern of behaviour “moving between schools” in Birmingham, an inquiry into alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ schools has found.
In a 151-page report for Birmingham City Council, Ian Kershaw concluded: “The evidence shows individuals have been seeking to promote and encourage Islamic principles in the schools with which they are involved, by seeking to introduce Islamic collective worship, or raising objections to elements of the school curriculum that are viewed as anti-Islamic.”
Mr Kershaw’s report said the problems had been allowed to run “unchecked” due to what he branded “weaknesses in the system and poor oversight of governance” mainly by the city council, but also by Ofsted, the Education Funding Agency and the DfE.
In his report, Mr Clarke, who served as head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit, said he “neither specifically looked for, nor found, evidence of terrorism, radicalisation or violent extremism in the schools of concern in Birmingham”.
But he went on to say: “I found clear evidence that there are a number of people, associated with each other and in positions of influence in schools and governing bodies, who espouse, sympathise with or fail to challenge extremist views.”
The inquiry concluded: “There has been co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, carried out by a number of associated individuals, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in Birmingham.
It said witnesses had expressed three key concerns about the impact of the situation on pupils:
- The first was that teachers feared that children are learning to be intolerant of difference and diversity.
- Secondly, that although good academic results can be achieved by narrowing the curriculum, this means young people are not getting a broad education, and instead their horizons are narrowed.
- Thirdly, that the evidence of young people being encouraged to “adopt an unquestioning attitude to a particular hardline strand of Sunni Islam” raises real concerns about their vulnerability to radicalisation in the future.
Criticising the role of Birmingham city council, the report concluded the authority was “aware of the practices and behaviours that were subsequently outlined in the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter long before the letter surfaced”.
It goes on to say that the council has not supported headteachers faced with “aggressive and inappropriate behaviour”.
Mr Clarke also warned that the DfE had allowed Park View Educational Trust (PVET) – the trust at the centre of the allegations – to move from running a single school to being responsible for three too quickly, without systems in place for holding the new academies to account.
” There has been no evidence of direct radicalisation or violent extremism,” she said. “But there is a clear account in the report of people in positions of influence in these schools, with a restricted and narrow interpretation of their faith, who have not promoted fundamental British values and who have failed to challenge the extremist views of others.
“Individuals associated with PVET in particular have destabilised headteachers, sometimes leading to their resignation or removal. Particularly shocking is the evidence of the social media discussion of the Park View Brotherhood group whose actions betray a collective mind-set that can fairly be described as an intolerant Islamist approach which denies the validity of alternative beliefs.”
She said that it was “upsetting” that efforts to encourage more British Muslims to become school governors had been “damaged by the actions of a few” and urged parents to continue to come forward to serve on governing bodies.
A new education commissioner is to be appointed at Birmingham City Council to oversee action to address the criticisms of the authority in the Clarke and Kershaw reports.”
Shiraz Socialist commented a few days ago,
So we now have a situation in which the two reports commissioned into ‘Trojan Horse’ have both concluded that there was a real issue of organised, ultra-reactionary Islamist influence in some Birmingham schools. The newspaper at the forefront of the campaign of denial that followed the allegations has now relented and faced reality. The leader of Birmingham City Council has acknowledged what happened and apologised. But will those on the left (in particular, but not only, the SWP), who took the Guardian ‘line’ now admit their mistake? More importantly, will the NUT leadership, instead of prevaricating on the issue, now take a clear stand in support of secular education?
One solution: secular education!
Boot Religious Authority out of Schools!
Independent investigation sparked by ‘Trojan horse’ letter finds officials failed to act for fear of being accused of Islamophobia.
SWP Placards, No Answer to Real Problems.
Is the Guardian finally seeing sense?
This report has just appeared.
Birmingham council a ‘disastrous failure’ over Islamism in schools
Independent investigation sparked by ‘Trojan horse’ letter finds officials failed to act for fear of being accused of Islamophobia.
Birmingham council “disastrously” failed to act when a group of Muslim men began to promote, sometimes illegally, a fundamentalist version of Islam in some schools, because officials were afraid of being accused of racism or Islamophobia, a report has found.
The investigation, carried out by the independent adviser Ian Kershaw, was commissioned by Birmingham City council (BCC) as a result of concerns raised in a letter dated 27 November 2013, known as the “Trojan horse” letter, which suggested a number of schools in the city had been “taken over” to ensure they were run on strict Islamic principles.
The Birmingham report, compiled by Kershaw and overseen by a review group that included senior Home Office official Stephen Rimmer and representatives of the West Midlands police, interviewed many of the same witnesses and reviewed the same documents as the former counterterrorism police chief Peter Clarke, who was commissioned by the then education secretary Michael Gove to address extremism in Birmingham schools.
The article continues and states this,
The report found that a small group of governors had:
• placed unreasonable demands on head teachers to “modify curriculum provision, which denies students their right to access a broad and balanced curriculum, including the right to understand other world religions and the right to sex and relationship education”.
• placed “inappropriate demands on head teachers by repeatedly requesting information”.
• been “overly challenging and sometimes aggressive in the management of head teachers”.
• inappropriately appointed friends and relatives to the school staff.
• undermined head teachers during Ofsted inspections.
Kershaw found that elements of the five steps referred to in the Trojan Horse letter for taking over schools were present in a “large number of the schools considered as part of the investigation”.
These five steps were to: target poorly performing schools in Muslim areas; select parents to turn against schools; install governors to encourage Islamic ideals; identify key staff to disrupt from within; and to instigate a campaign of pressure.
Kershaw found evidence of all five steps at Golden Hillock School, Moseley school, Nansen primary school and Saltley school. All of those schools, with the exception of Moseley, were recently put into special measures after emergency Ofsted inspections downgraded them to “inadequate”.
There was no evidence of all five at Park View Academy, which has been at the centre of the controversy.
Kershaw concluded that the evidence collated to date “does not support a conclusion that there was a systematic plot to take over schools”.
He added: “There are concerns which require immediate attention, but the evidence is not sufficient to lead me to construe the behaviour to be a coordinated plan to improperly influence the direction and management of schools (or academies) serving schools of predominantly Islamic faith or Muslim background.”
Has the Guardian changed? Have all their writers now dropped the automatic resort to charges about ‘Islamophobia’ when these problems were reaised.
It remains trapped in religious multi-culturalism, as this accompanying article by Usama Hasan illustrates.
….we need to clarify the place of religion in state schools. For example, is it reasonable to expect a school with a majority Muslim population to hold Christian prayers during assembly, daily worship apparently being a legal requirement? Should it offer Islamic prayer instead or different assemblies for pupils of different religious and non-religious backgrounds? Does modern religious diversity mean we do away with collective worship at school or adopt a multi-faith approach? Schools around the country regularly grapple with such issues.
As a result of this unfortunate episode, we need to put measures in place to ensure that the teaching of religion in schools is objective, balanced and non-discriminatory, while all school activities and practices are inclusive and devoid of narrow religious or political influences. While state schools must remain sensitive to the cultural needs of all pupils, isolationist and xenophobic tendencies must be challenged robustly and not accepted as part of faith or cultural practice. Governance structures also need to be improved so that schools are more careful about whom they appoint. Extremists, even if they are non-violent, should not be allowed to work in schools or be governors, and attempts to impose puritanical agendas on schools in the public sector must not be allowed to happen again.
How about simply removing religion from “school activities and practices”, and teaching about it within the context of philosophy and cultural anthropology in schools?
Humanists Show the Way Forward.
Faith Schools Undercover: No Clapping in Class (Monday 14th July at 8pm on Channel 4) revealed:
- Exclusively that even before the so-called anonymous ‘Trojan Horse’ letter came to light the Prime Minister’s office had been warned of what was going on
- Claims by current and former members of staff at Park View – one of the schools implemented in the ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations – that male pupils were given worksheets saying women couldn’t say no to sex with their husbands and also girls at the school were sent home from a sports event because only a male coach was present
- The ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jewish schools in the London Borough of Hackney ‘operating illegally and without the most basic health, safety and child welfare checks’. Channel 4 Dispatches has shocking evidence that Hackney Council, the Department for Education and Ofsted have all known about the schools for years
The programme began with concerns at Oldknow Academy Birmingham. A parent had complained at Christmas not being celebrated and got short shrift. He wrote to the PM.
The most important item was on Park View school,
A former teacher said, on camera, but anonymously that,
“about 60 male pupils were given a worksheet saying women couldn’t say no to sex with their husbands.
She says: “The work sheet categorically said that you know the wife has to obey the man. Well I think it makes the boys feel that they have got that power over girls. The east Birmingham area has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the country.”
This was flately, and not very convincingly, denied, by the school.
Local MP Khalid Mahmood says: “I am not talking about here extremism in schools although ultimately it could lead to it, and that’s my fear, is that when you are grooming young people into that sort of a mind-set then its very easy once they leave school is to go that extra additional step.”
He also dismissed suggestions the controversy smacks of Islamophobia.
“Over 200 people complaining to the local authority about what’s gone on and you can’t really claim that it’s a witch-hunt,” said Mahmood, whose own actions have shown him sensitive to the difficulties raised by racist attacks on Birmingham Muslims.
There was a report on Olive Primary School in Blackburn.
During this there was evidence that music in school was discouraged, that clapping was not encouraged, and that other “un-Islamic,” practices were frowned on.
Olive Primary is run by the Tauheedul Education Trust, with two other secondaries in Blackburn.
The Lancashire Telegraph draws attention to one feature of the Trust’s activities,
The programme revealed trust schools hosted lectures by three extremist preachers, including Mufti Ismail Menk banned from six UK universities for preaching same-sex acts were ‘filthy’.
It showed him saying of gay people: “With all due respect to the animals, they are worse than animals.”
In Hackney illegal Jewish religious schools (for the ultra-orthodox) exist,
Channel 4 Dispatches discovered that more than 1,000 boys aged 13 to 16 have disappeared from registered schools in the London borough of Hackney.
Instead they are being sent by their parents to be educated in yeshivas – fee-paying schools where the curriculum is solely religious.
We have identified more than ten unregistered, illegal, schools.
And what’s really shocking is that Hackney Council, the Department for Education and Ofsted have all known about these schools for years.
We’ve seen internal government briefing documents that reveal as early as 2008 the Department for Education was aware of the issue. One document states the Department knows a number of schools are ‘operating illegally and without the most basic health, safety and child welfare checks’.
In 2012 the Department acknowledged those running the schools were breaking the law, but said they preferred to work cooperatively with the community.
There were shots of a school, including a room where Hasidic instruction and disputation was taking place. Students went in an out till late in the day.
The conclusion of this section was very unsettling.
Dispatches contacted the schools featured but have received no response.
Hackney Council, Ofsted and the Department for Education told Dispatches their concerns date back many years and they are aware of all the schools on our list.
They say they’ve been working to get them registered.
The Department for Education, who Ofsted and Hackney say have the power to take action against the schools, told Dispatches that ‘where applications for registration are still not forthcoming we will press for a prosecution as it is a criminal offence to operate an unregistered illegal schools.’
The programme seemed to suggest that the Council, out of concern for religious and cultural feeling, was unwilling to act.
Andrew Gilligam reports,
Government documents obtained by Channel 4’s Dispatches and the Jewish Chronicle newspaper say that many of the schools are “operating illegally and without the most basic health, safety and child welfare checks”.
Many boys in the Orthodox Jewish community in Stamford Hill, London, “will stop secular studies at the age of 13 or 14 and start attending ‘yeshivas’ where the curriculum is solely religious,” the documents say.
Between 800 and 1000 boys aged between 13 and 16 are “missing” from the school system in the borough of Hackney alone, the papers add.
Undercover filming by Dispatches in and around the schools shows the boys packed more than 50 to a classroom in dirty, run-down buildings, some converted houses. More than a hundred boys were filmed going in to an illegal school in Lynmouth Road, Stamford Hill, arriving from 7.30 in the morning and leaving late at night. The establishment is believed to be one of twelve illegal schools in the neighbourhood.
In 2011, about one third of the 20,000 state funded schools in England were faith schools, approximately 7,000 in total, of which 68% were Church of England schools and 30% were Roman Catholic . There were 42 Jewish, 12 Muslim, 3 Sikh and 1 Hindu faith schools.
The British Humanist Association says,
“Around a third of all state-funded schools are schools ‘with a religious character’ – the legal term for ‘faith’ schools. This number has grown in recent years as successive governments have increased the influence of religious groups in the state-funded education system.”
That is, with the introduction of Academies and Free Schools, this percentage is believed to have risen.
Faith Schools Undercover noted their role in encouraging ethnic and cultural segregation.
The idea that parents have the right to run, publicly funded, education that promotes their religion, is fundamentally wrong.
Some liberals seem unable to respond to the issues raised.
There are those who claim to be on the left who find excuses for these arrangements.
They claim that criticisms of, notably, the Birmingham schools, are an ‘Islamophobic’ conspiracy.
This completely fails to look at the problems religiously-run schools create – as indicated by the Channel Four Dispatches documentary.
It indicated that concerns had a solid basis.
The National Secular Society sets out a much better position that those wishing to sweep the subject of Faith education under the carpet.,
Rather than facilitating the segregation of pupils along religious lines, we would like to see steps taken to ensure children of all faiths and none are educated together in a respectful but religiously neutral environment.
As long as faith schools are publicly funded, we campaign for an end to exemptions from equality legislation that allow them to select pupils on the basis of the religion, or religious activities, of the child’s parents.
We are concerned that the Government’s desire for greater proportion of academies and free schools, which are independent and self-governing, will see more and more control of state funded education handed to religious organisations.
Dispatches showed more than enough reasons to back this stand.
The author of many of the pro-religious education policies, Michael Gove, is now Chief Whip.
He has been replaced by even more faith-influenced minister, Nicky Morgan, a Tory MP who voted against same-sex marriage, as education secretary. She “continues as minister for women and equalities”.
Seamus Milne Hints at Plot to Forge Trojan Horse Document.
The fallacy of relative privation, or appeal to worse problems, is an informal fallacy which attempts to suggest that the opponent’s argument should be ignored because there are more important problems in the world, despite the fact that these issues are often completely unrelated to the subject under discussion.
The word whataboutery has been used to describe this line of argument when used in protesting at inconsistent behaviour. e.g. “The British even have a term for it: whataboutery. If you are prepared to go to war to protect Libyan civilians from their government, then what about the persecuted in Bahrain?” Wikipedia.
Seamus Milne is a master of Wataboutery.
Today in the Guardian he begins an article – Michael Gove’s toxic assault on schools is based on naked discrimination – with another tactic, of ‘contextualisation’ by putting an event in terms of the worst possible context.
“The harassment of minorities on the basis of forged documents has a grim history.”
“So the official onslaught on mainly Muslim state schools in Birmingham, triggered by what has all the hallmarks of a fabricated letter outlining a supposed Islamist plot to take them over, should be cause for deep alarm.”
Left in the dark about this “history” (although we might float the words, Protocols, Elders and Zion, around) we launch into some rhetoric before landing here,
But this extremism turns out to be a different beast from the one first trailed in lurid accusations a few months back. It is nothing to do with terrorism, or even the elastic boo-word of Islamism. The target is religious conservatism – or even just plain religiousness.
It is with interest that Milne takes so lightly criticism of Islamism (overwhelmingly from the left in countries where Islamists have murdered democrats, leftists and feminists) that he calls it a ‘boo-word’.
Milne then largely denies that there is much of a problem about the influence of conservative Islamism in schools, notes the patriotism of Birmingham Muslims, denies that most of the reported incidents of enforcing religious norms took place, and, unable to disprove some of them admits that,
That’s not to say, of course, that there’s nothing behind the allegations, which have clearly been fed by former and current staff – or that there aren’t legitimate grievances. These are not faith schools and some have clearly pushed the schools’ religious boundaries.
He then ends with a classic whataboutery,
“There’s a powerful case for secular education. But it doesn’t exist in Britain’s schools, which are awash with religion. And unless the same rules apply to all, the result is naked discrimination. But has Gove sent inspectors to root out anti-abortionism and homophobia in Catholic or evangelical-sponsored schools, or cultural isolation in mainly white schools where racism is rife?”
No he has not.
He has not disestablished the Church of England.
Or promoted equality and secularism.
He is a dyed-in-the-wool reactionary privatiser.
But does Milne advocate promoting the “”same rules for all”?
We await this call with interest.
This is followed by another whatabout….
But the campaign to bring to heel Birmingham’s schools and humiliate the Muslim community in the process is a wider threat in a country where war-fuelled Islamophobia is already rampant. Dog-whistling to Ukip bigotry might seem a cute electoral trick.
The problem then is not the content of the report on the schools: it’s the context in which it’s made. By this sleight of hand Milne has avoided addressing the issues
- Is there anything wrong with the principle of religious influence in education?
- Should the influence of conservative Islam be curtailed?
- Should there be universal secular education?
Secularism Means Freedom, Equality and Solidarity!
The infiltration of public schools in Birmingham by Islamists causes a political scandal.
Le Monde 11.6.2014. (Extracts)
Birmingham is in shock. Across the media the second city of the Kingdom is everywhere. The infiltration by Muslim extremists of six public schools in the Midlands city has stirred up a debate not only on the evolution of British multicultural society but it has also divided the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition led by Prime Minister David Cameron.
On Tuesday Mr Cameron announced that “The promotion of fundamental British values in schools in England will have the support of all” This followed the publication yesterday of an explosive Ostead inspection report on the Islamic practices imposed by Muslim extremists in six schools in Birmingham.
Headteachers and non-Muslims or moderate Muslim teachers were harassed. Boys and girls were separated. Calls to prayer were constantly broadcast by loudspeakers. Private detectives were hired to investigate students in order to uncover their sexual relations and report them back to parents. The Emails of recalcitrant teachers were scrutinised. Several pilgrimages to Mecca were financed with public funds. Hard-line school governors intended to stop the teaching of music and arts . They banned a picture of Jesus in a Nativity play at Christmas.
Four of the six public schools in the spotlight are totally autonomous “academies” , completely free from local authority control, which are in principle charged with the supervision of public institutions. This reform was launched by the Blair government reform and put an end to municipal control of education and the school curriculum. It has been by continued by Mr Gove. The Birmingham case highlights the risk of abuses of a system allowing freedom for schools to manage their own functions.