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Trojan Horse, non violent extremism, and schools

This is a cross-post by John Sargeant at Homo Economicus

The post opens with a discussion of Ibrahim Hewitt’s Newsnight interview, covered here yesterday.

… The reason we are even having this discussion thrust into public discourse is because of the Trojan Horse letter suggesting there were ways for Islamists to control schools. Whilst most see the letter as a forgery, or at least not part of an organised conspiracy to infiltrate schools, the government is investigating. A leaked copy of some of the individual school reports today suggests the following:

In the Golden Hillock report, Ofsted said: “Too little is done to keep students safe from the risks associated with extremist views.”

Inspectors concluded leaders and governors were “not doing enough to mitigate against cultural isolation” and this “could leave students vulnerable to the risk of marginalisation from wider British society and the associated risks which could include radicalisation.”

These concerns about schools in Birmingham being targeted will soon be reported officially by the government’s education watchdog OFSTED, though it is thought that six of the schools will be put under special measures by the above leak. Before all this there have been attempts to rubbish the forthcoming reports. For example Assed Baig:

There is extremism is schools, I agree and accept this. Extremism exists in schools were [sic] parents pay tens of thousands a year to have their boys segregated from girls. Where an ideology of superiority is taught, where young rich boys are taught that it is their God given right to rule over the commoners. Where a skewed version of history is taught, colonialism was a good thing and the empire brought good to the world and civilized the savages. In these schools boys are forced to learn Latin, not Arabic. But we won’t see or hear politicians talking of that kind of extremism or segregation, we won’t see journalists peering through windows there, because it is not Muslims involved. Extremism of the rich is applauded, not questioned.

It is like the media reports of the Bullingdon Club, the criticisms of Nadine Dorries Conservative MP of the Conservative Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer as “arrogant posh boys” with “no passion to want to understand the lives of others” never happened. The deflection just does not work because the media has noticed and criticised the inner Cabinet’s narrow privileged background, and labour have built a campaign strategy around this for the 2015 General Election. We know Nigel Farage of UKIP went to an exclusive public school – the media screamed the negativity of this as a man claiming to challenge the establishment. What has this to do with the concerns of the standard of education children were receiving in these schools?

Mehdi Hasan has also before OFSTED reports tried to undermine what conclusions may be reached by suggesting the education secretary Michael Gove’s “black and white” approach will encourage extremism:

Thus, the activities, habits and practises of British Muslims – from dress codes to dietary requirements, from Sunday schools to seating arrangements at university – continue to be viewed almost exclusively through the lens of security and counter-extremism. This Gove-backed approach, Blunt reminded listeners of the Today programme, is both “impractical and counter-productive” because it encourages a dangerous, black-and-white view of the world and further alienates those young British Muslims who feel disillusioned or demonised.

“You would find that people who are in the shades of grey are then driven into being black because they are invited to choose between black and white.”

Yes, by this logic, ensuring that children are taught music and dance might well push them to become suicide bombers in the future to rebel against the decadence of a former colonial power that made them jig as kids. In class, an exploration of capital punishment as going against human rights might force them to protect the importance of marriage by insisting on the stoning of adulterers. Because what Hasan is saying is you are provoking disillusioned demonised young Muslims to the edge of reason to defend their faith. Never mind that the schools currently are doing this if the leak is correct.

We are not going to tackle extremism or people being attracted to Islamism by burying our heads in the sand or believe that we should let sleeping non violent extremists lie undisturbed in case they become violently militant. Neither is this going to be helped by treating every Muslim as a security threat or less equal as a citizen. I was delighted that TellMAMA (a charity that looks at anti-Muslim hatred) recently advocated ending religious segregation in the British education system as a means to reduce fear and hatred and also to promote a cohesive society.

It is the ultimate way by which a school like Al-Aqsa when stating (my emphasis) “The national curriculum is, with minor adjustments, taught at Al-Aqsa within an Islamic framework and perspective” no longer need cause concern about a kids education as all children from different religious, social and economic backgrounds can learn, play, and dance together.

Without any religious agenda being foisted on them by anyone at school.