More Developments in the “Muslim Plot to Take-over Schools” story

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The past twenty-four hours have seen additional developments in the story involving the alleged plot involving a leaked document purportedly describing how some Muslims are planning to take-over schools in heavily Muslim populated areas using some highly unethical methods.

Tahir Alam – whose name is mentioned in the leaked document – gave a statement to the Guardian on Saturday describing the letter as “a malicious fabrication and completely untrue.”

He has now issued a much longer press statement  reiterating why he believes the document to be a hoax. It is worth reading in full.

Meanwhile, the Birmingham Mail yesterday published a story featuring Balwant Singh Bains, a former head of Saltley School who resigned last November. The Birmingham Mail story claims that he was “bullied and intimidated” by some governors after opposing their plans to ban sex education.

And the Daily Mail (inevitably) today publishes another story featuring yet more claims that other headteachers  in the Birmingham area have been targeted by some Muslims – including a Muslim lady almost twenty years ago – because she says she was seen as “too moderate”.

Where lies the truth? Two good friends of mine who have long worked to challenge Islamophobia have written to me to say they are convinced that the leaked document is a forgery.

My view? I am sadly not so sure – I think we should wait and see. Overall, I pretty much agree with this editorial that the Birmingham Mail published on Friday:

The claim that Islamic fundamentalists are seeking to take over the running of several city schools, imposing their primitive world-view, will cause massive alarm.

We make no judgment on the truth – or otherwise – of these very serious allegations.

But it is clear that they need thorough investigation, that the inquiry must be transparent and that appropriate action must be taken if the claims are proved.

However, it is also clear that this situation shines a spotlight on the risks of giving our schools greater independence.

By doing so, they are potentially at the mercy of all sorts of groups with hidden agendas.

Are there adequate safeguards against this?

Update:  The Times published a story on Tuesday March 11 2014 raising questions regarding the authenticity of the leaked document. This is all the more interesting because the original story was published in its sister paper, the Sunday Times. Interesting Times! We await further developments…

Update 2: The Guardian has also now published a story in today’s paper saying that the police are ” investigating whether a document outlining an alleged Islamic fundamentalist plot to “take over” schools in the city was a hoax connected to an employment tribunal involving one of the schools named in the plot.”

Update 3: The Guardian has also published an accompanying story featuring quotes from headteachers saying they recognise the tactics described in the leaked document as having been employed against them.

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7 Responses to More Developments in the “Muslim Plot to Take-over Schools” story

  1. Yusuf says:

    Refutation of Allegations in ‘Trojan Horse’

    PRESS RELEASE 9th March 2014

    Over the past week there has been substantial coverage of an alleged
    Islamic plot to take over state schools in Birmingham via the Academies
    Programme. This ridiculous assertion is based entirely upon a leaked
    document nonsensically referred to as ‘Operation Trojan Horse’. This press
    release is to address the baseless and false assertions that have been made
    in this anonymous, unsigned and undated document, the authenticity of which
    any decent and fair-minded person would question and quite quickly conclude
    as a hoax.

    The document is the basis of the many sensationalised and Islamophobic
    articles in the media which seek to defame and vilify respectable
    individuals and institutions. As one of the people named in this anonymous
    document by its fictitious author, I wish to state that any reference to me
    is a malicious fabrication and completely untrue. Please consider the
    following:

    · The document suggests collusion between myself, the Director of
    Education of Birmingham and senior Birmingham Local Authority officials to
    remove headteachers and replace them with Muslims. At no point has any
    official from Birmingham Local Authority contacted me or liaised with me in
    relation to the schools mentioned in the document. I urge the Local
    Authority to confirm that the letter is a hoax and publish its recent
    investigations into Adderley Primary School, Regents Park Primary School
    and Saltley Secondary School as well as their investigation into the
    authenticity of the ‘Operation Trojan Horse’ document. I am confident that
    each of these investigations will prove that I have no involvement
    whatsoever.

    · The document suggests that Park View is seeking to take over the
    aforementioned schools; this is an absurd idea. These schools are graded as
    ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. It is preposterous to suggest that Park
    View is somehow seeking to ‘take over’ these schools via the Academies
    programme. I can confirm that at no time has any discussion taken place
    between Park View, the DfE or the Local Authority in relation to these
    schools. The additional claim that there is an Islamic plot is simply
    tapping into prejudices and stereotypes about Muslims. The media has failed
    to highlight other allegations mentioned in the letter because it
    undermines their sensational headlines.

    The detail concerning Adderley Primary School in this document is of
    significant importance. The headteacher at Adderley is a Muslim. If the
    plot was to take over schools run by non-Muslims then it is odd that
    Adderley should be targeted as its current governing body and leadership
    team are predominantly Muslims. Why is a suggested plot to take over
    schools with non-Muslim headteachers cited as an intention to remove a
    Muslim headteacher? I ask you to consider why Saltley School and Regents
    Park School are mentioned briefly in this hoax document yet there is
    extensive mention of Adderley School. The ‘Operation Trojan Horse’ document
    mentions a number of ongoing investigations into, amongst other things,
    allegations of forgery and misconduct which threaten the removal of the
    headteacher at Adderley School. I would ask that Birmingham Local Authority
    to consider who is likely to use and benefit from these baseless and false
    allegations in any ongoing investigations for the aforementioned schools.

    · The document refers to a headteacher at Springfield School and
    how the alleged ‘plotters’ attempted to remove her but did not succeed;
    and how they are still trying to remove her now. A simple Google search has
    revealed that she was headteacher of Springfield Primary School around 1993
    and has not been at the school for a very long time. My involvement in
    education started in 1997. This factual inaccuracy further undermines the
    veracity of the whole document and shows it is a complete concoction. Again
    the Local Authority’s investigation into ‘Trojan Horse’ should also confirm
    this inaccuracy and that this letter is a hoax.

    Finally, I have managed to obtain four pages of a scanned copy of the
    original ‘Trojan Horse’ document, which I have attached so that you can
    make your own mind up. It is obviously and self-evidently fabricated and
    tries to discredit me. I have worked voluntarily as a school governor since
    1997 for nothing other than the improvement of children’s education. I am a
    National Leader of Governance. I am a specialist in school governance
    training for the Local Authority. I have longstanding service to school
    improvement and my track record at Park View demonstrates how we have
    successfully transformed the lives of inner city children from a highly
    deprived area.

    I urge you to consider: from the ongoing investigations taking place in the
    above mentioned schools, which individuals or institutions are likely to
    use and benefit from baseless and false allegations in the ‘Trojan Horse’
    document?

    Tahir Alam

  2. Probably the best and the most helpful article on this sorry mess. You might find some useful background material in my book ‘Dear Birmingham’ – details on http://www.forwardpartnership.org.uk where you will also find some relevant blog articles arising out of my PhD research into education of Pakistani boys in Birmingham.

  3. Pingback: Birmingham’s Trojan Horse Hoax — brief update | Insted Consultancy News

  4. sherlock says:

    For the purposes of balance I present the following:

    Opinion piece from BANUT President Doug Morgan on the recent headlines regarding ‘Jihadist plot to take-over Birmingham schools’.

    There have been a number of sensationalist headlines in the press recently regarding some of our schools. None of them have been about having a nuanced debate regarding the role of religion in schools, discussing equalities or a defence of/argument for a broad and balanced curriculum. Instead I think they have been part of the general Islamophobic drive that accompanied the ‘War of Terror’ and has lingered ever since.

    The articles point to particular issues regarding alleged attempts by people of the Islamic faith at some named schools in Birmingham to turn non-denominational Local Authority schools into Islamic ones. Within this there are allegations of attempts to also narrow the curriculum and to hound out staff or hinder staff progression. Just to be clear, the NUT is against bullying and is for staff having decent terms and conditions in all schools. We are also for a broad and balanced curriculum for all students. If there has been any wrong doing in these schools then of course this should be challenged and the NUT will support staff who contact us.

    But I think we should also be clear that the real attempts to curtail staff terms and conditions, as well as the curriculum at large, are being led not by a few Muslim parents or Governors but by Michael Gove himself – hence our forthcoming strike action. On top of this, the Academies and Free School programme is itself designed to break staff conditions and any idea of a national curriculum. So again, if your terms and conditions are under threat BY ANYONE IN ANY SCHOOL, please contact Birmingham NUT so that we can challenge it.

    The whole debate around religious schools is a complex one that requires more detailed discussion than can be put in a short article. Certainly, this debate is not helped by such lurid headlines as above. I personally believe that all schools MUST educate and celebrate the cultural differences of society at large including teaching about all religions and none in RE lessons and projects. Schools should cater for and respect specific cultural and religious needs of the staff and students including catering and prayer facilities, but I do not think that schools should be run by a particular faith. However, when you look at the current system, with over a third of maintained schools having a religious character, this is clearly not where we are currently at.

    The vast majority of religious maintained schools in England are Catholic or Church of England, including schools where the majority faith of the students doesn’t match with those who choose to own the school. In the present system, where some state-funded schools are religious, it seems to me likely that some people may want their local school to also take on a particular faith too. The argument would be that if it is OK for some faiths to own and run state schools, why not ensure all faiths can exercise this option? To me, if you are against religious schools then the argument should be about making all schools secular rather than just arguing against minority religious ones.

    The articles in the press are not about why schools should be secular places that celebrate diversity but rather focus against a particular faith and the alleged methods used. I do not for one second think that attempts by those of more dominant beliefs, say those with Christian beliefs, to make a non-faith school into a religious one would attract such national media attention. I believe that the headlines wrote were part of a general Islamphobic mood that politicians have led to justify wars and to divide a populace at a time when unity against cuts and scapegoating is crucial.

    For these reasons, I think that while we should challenge any undue influence on our schools from any quarter, we should also reject the implicit Islamophobia of this debate. And for that reason and more, I will also be demonstrating against racism and scapegoating in London this Saturday on the TUC/Unite Against Fascism UN Anti-racism Day demonstration (below) and I would urge you, whether you have a faith or not, to join us on the coaches to London too.

  5. shaders says:

    Hi, I was trying to find alternative coverage of this story and stumbled upon your blog. I think its great that your questioning the basis for the story, the MSM have taken the facts of the ‘letter’ to be completely true and only The Guardian have decided to ask one of the alleged writers. What I also find disturbing is that they haven’t even released the letters to the public. Even the Guardian/Washington Post released the files for stories that released on the NSA! This is hardly on par with that, in fact it isn’t even illegal. I read somewhere (I believe it was the guardian) that the department of educations counter terrorism unit already did an investigation into the allegations and didn’t feel it necessary to pass the case to the police, who themselves have even said that it isn’t worth perusing. I live in Alum Rock (the area where the schools are) and honestly know the letter is entirely false and an easy story for a crappy newspaper like the Brum Mail to use to sell papers. The schools involved do have issues, the former head at Adderly Primary was no “Islamic fundamentalist” in fact she considered herself a “Moderate” so much so that she allegedly falsed the signitures of staff she felt we’re not “moderate” enough (an interesting side to this is that you’ll notice the media have picked up on this but are spinning it differently the Daily Fail and the Brum Mail both say the ousting of the assistants is part of the takeover plot, this is completely false as the second Guardian article makes clear). As for saltley school this has little to do with Islamism and more to do with a breakdown in communications between the head and the governors (notice how the media are differentiating between Sikh head teacher and Muslim/non-Muslim governors. As if all Muslims are untrustworthy, if this isn’t racist I don’t know what is). It has become clear as daylight from this “leak” that the media make no distinction between extremism and Islam, any manifestation of Islam (even Halal only food in Saltley school, which has a 98% Muslim population! Is considered part of the ‘plot’).

  6. Bertaz says:

    Thank you, Inayat, for a very good article But please do not wonder any more, it is a hoax. After reading Mr Alam’s refutation letter I was looking for more information and comments on this new developments. I was fooled by this hoax, I am embarrassed to admit, and had fully believed on the take over plot. I think Mr Alam’s letter is most clarifying and wish him all the best in proving his innocence and that his successful school does not suffer with these false allegations. It is very clear who is to benefit from such claims as detailed in the alleged plot letter. I have previously urged to my shame that this Trojean Horse plot be properly investigated. I now urge that the connections between the anonymous letter and the fraud investigation be thoroughly investigated:
    Update 2: The Guardian has also now published a story in today’s paper saying that the police are “ investigating whether a document outlining an alleged Islamic fundamentalist plot to “take over” schools in the city was a hoax connected to an employment tribunal involving one of the schools named in the plot.”
    Whoever wrote this hoax is a very devious person/s who is not afraid to play with society’s prejudices and divisions to his/her advantage. The fact that the document name names that bring discredit to innocent people is most disconcerting and makes me wonder why these schools have been specifically target – or were they randomly chosen?

  7. Bertaz says:

    I am sorry but I have made so many mistakes that I would prefer to have this amended before the comment is published, if possible:
    Line 1 – missing full stop
    Line 3 – “these” new developments, not this
    Penultimate line – “targeted”, not target

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