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Jul 17 2014

An intolerant and politicised form of extreme social conservatism

The Guardian discusses the report on Islamist infiltration of Birmingham schools.

A damning report into extremist infiltration of Birmingham schools has uncovered evidence of “coordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city”.

The conclusion emerges from a leaked draft of a report, commissioned by the former education secretary Michael Gove and written by Peter Clarke, the former head of the Metropolitan police’s counterterrorism command, which is due to be published in the next 24 hours.

Clarke said there was a “sustained and coordinated agenda to impose upon children in a number of Birmingham schools the segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline and politicised strain of Sunni Islam”.

These are state schools, keep in mind, not private religious schools.

The uncompromising report may deepen community tensions in England’s second city and provoke a fierce debate on whether Britain has been sufficiently muscular in efforts to expose and uproot Islamism. It will also make uncomfortable reading for Birmingham city council as it accuses local politicians and officials of ignoring evidence of extremism for years, repeatedly failing to support bullied headteachers and putting the need to soothe community tensions ahead of all else.

Don’t go thinking it’s all Muslims on the side of the schools and everyone else on the other side – liberal secular Muslims are disgusted by this agenda and by people who are trying to cover it up or excuse it.

Last week Mark Rogers, the chief executive of Birmingham city council, said: “We’ve had to deal with a national political agenda that has deliberately conflated religious conservatism with an extremist agenda that is all to do with radicalisation and violent extremism.”

But why should state schools be shoving “religious conservatism” on children anyway? “Religious conservatism” means second-class status for girls, just for one thing. State schools shouldn’t be going anywhere near that.

Clarke’s report is backed up by graphic evidence, including social media exchanges between senior staff, and disagrees with the council’s previously expressed view, saying the offending ideology “manifests itself as the imposition of an aggressively separatist and intolerant agenda incompatible with full participation in a plural secular democracy”.

“Rejecting not only the secular and other religions, but also other strains of Islamic belief, it goes beyond the kind of social conservatism practiced in some faith schools which may be consistent with universal human rights and respectful of other communities. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to convert secular state schools into exclusive faith schools in all but name.”

“Essentially the ideology revealed by this investigation is an intolerant and politicised form of extreme social conservatism that claims to represent and ultimately seeks to control all Muslims. In its separatist assertions and attempts to subvert normal processes it amounts to what is often described as Islamism.”

Clarke’s investigation gained him access to transcripts of discussions on social media between senior figures at Park View Academy, one of the schools at the heart of the row. He asserts: “The all-male group discussions include explicit homophobia, highly offensive comments about British service personnel, a stated ambition to increase segregation at the school, disparagement of Muslims in sectors other than their own, scepticism about the truth of reports on the murder of [soldier] Lee Rigby and the Boston bombings, and a constant undercurrent of anti-western, anti-America and anti-Israel sentiment.”

In state schools. Not good. (Not good in private schools either, but those are…well, private, which complicates things.)

The report will be out tomorrow, I guess.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    Omar Puhleez

    From the Grauniad’s report:

    ‘Clarke said there was a “sustained and coordinated agenda to impose upon children in a number of Birmingham schools the segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline and politicised strain of Sunni Islam”.
    .
    ‘The draft, marked as sensitive, added that: “Left unchecked, it would confine schoolchildren within an intolerant, inward-looking monoculture that would severely inhibit their participation in the life of modern Britain.”
    ..
    ‘The uncompromising report may deepen community tensions in England’s second city and provoke a fierce debate on whether Britain has been sufficiently muscular in efforts to expose and uproot Islamism. It will also make uncomfortable reading for Birmingham city council as it accuses local politicians and officials of ignoring evidence of extremism for years, repeatedly failing to support bullied headteachers and putting the need to soothe community tensions ahead of all else.’
    .
    An Abrahamic religion functions as a social glue by encouraging its adherents to believe that they are the saved Elect, and that non-believers are the damned of God and headed for the fires of Hell. Otherwise, what is so special about it as a doctrine and philosophy of life? Thus the boundary between a ‘hardline strain of Islam’ and whatever may be considered as a ‘softline strain’ is hard to identify and if found, is subject to blurring.
    .
    Professional Muslim preachers are bound to take their Islam seriously, and as long as they are around any given scene, this issue will monotonously occur and recur.

  2. 2
    RJW

    Omar@ 1

    Agreed, whatever the opinions of ‘liberal secular Muslims’ the agenda is set by illiberal, intolerant theocrats, as it is in most majority Muslim countries.
    The real culprits are those useful idiots in government who were more interested in establishing their multi-cultural credentials than protecting secular institutions.

  3. 3
    Maureen Brian

    It wasn’t multi-culturalism which drove the late Gove – was this why he was sacked? – but neo-liberalism and an ego as massive as his knowledge deficit.

    His incompetence went unremarked alongside colleagues* who seem determined to put in place the preconditions for the sort of corruption in public life that we’ve not seen since the eighteenth century.

    * Those colleagues would include an Environment Secretary who is a climate change denier, who refused briefings from top scientists and who didn’t think he needed to understand a huge piece of scientific research by an expert in the subject – he could just take out of it the couple of sentences he believed agreed with him and act on that! He’s gone, too.

  4. 4
    Maureen Brian

    And here’s the parallel report, the one commissioned by Birmingham City Council.

    http://www.greaterbirmingham.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Full-Report-–-REDACTED.pdf

  5. 5
    jimvj

    Did they learn this tactic from the “stealth” techniques used in ’80s on by the RWNJs in the US.

  6. 6
    Decker

    The real culprits are those useful idiots in government who were more interested in establishing their multi-cultural credentials than protecting secular institutions.

    Exactly. The same types of dolts are responsible for letting some public, secular Toronto area schools use their cafeterias as mosques on Friday…to the detriment and inconvenience of all the other students.

    Or in France where the curriculum has been charcuté so as to eliminate whole subjects and to censor works of literature so as not to cause offense

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