Birmingham Schools, Islam and Secularism.
Secular Emancipation: What UK Education Needs.
Amongst the confused reactions to the very evident problems raised by the Birmingham Schools and the influence of Islamist ideology in education two responses stand out for their good judgement.
The first is Shiraz Socialist’s defence of secular education.
It makes this simple observation,
….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 sparked 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.
The second is by comrade Rumy Hasan (a long-standing defender of left-wing secularism) on the National Secular Society site.
Since the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter came to light, some 200 reports have been received by Birmingham City Council, including claims that boys and girls are being segregated in classrooms and assemblies, pressure on girls to cover their hair, sex education being banned, the prevention of the teaching of non-Islamic faiths in religious education classes, and non-Muslim staff being bullied. Yet all this is precisely what has been happening in Free Schools such as Al Madinah in Derby (which Education Minister Lord Nash found dysfunctional) and the Madani faith school in Leicester. But none of this should be surprising: on the contrary, it is entirely to be expected that leaders of faith communities wish to impose values and practices in schools in their neighbourhoods that are in accordance with their religion. The reason for this is that the emphasis on a multifaith society facilitates the primary identity of some minorities being on the basis of their faith.
Bob Jones, the elected West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, is correct to state that ‘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’. Indeed they should be embarrassing and it really is high time that the both the government and the opposition grasped the nettle that a firm commitment to a rounded secular education is what is needed for the benefit of children and for society at large, and act accordingly.
One should add that the actions of the Birmingham ‘faith communities’, imposing their religious ideology on education, are inconceivable n a secular educations system, like France’s.
A great deal of noise has been heard from liberals and multicultural leftists about the robust prohibition of faith symbols, from the veil to the cross, in French schools, as well as other progressive policies designed to prevent these kind of communalist politics in education.
We hear very little from British left and liberal quarters equates about sexual segregation and other aspects of religious bigotry being imposed in Birmingham schools and elsewhere.
Henri Pena-Ruiz of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Parti de gauche (left Party) recently said (March 2014), that it was ten years since the law banning ostentatious religious signs from French schools was passed.
“It has discouraged religious proselytism and those who would wish to take schooling hostage (for the religious agenda). Today communalist demands are rare.”
Pena-Ruiz calls secularism an “emancipatory demand”.
The British left could learn from this approach.
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf