The “Jihadist takeover plot”, which has since downgraded in threat level to “Islamist takeover plot” and is currently at level “Islamic takeover plot” is taking quite an interesting turn. Listening to Gilligan on radio a few days ago, I heard him confidently defend his report and stated that there were “huge numbers” of people who had come to him complaining about the takeover by “Islamists” at Park View School. He highlighted that they were holding prayers at the school and allowing prayers to be done on Friday and this was an enforcement on non-Muslims “however few they maybe”.
Listening to this man I could read through his deflection tactics. Questions ran through my mind,
“Who are these swathes of people running to their white saviour that is Gilligan? Are they willing to testify without anonymity? Does his biased reporting in the past against Muslims have anything to do with it, especially as closer to his home Jewish schools are dishing out corporal punishment? And is praying at school really a problem?”
If it is forced upon the students then perhaps it is an issue but from my research this was not the case. What really accentuates his clear anti-Muslim bigotry is the fact that I went to a Church of England public school. And I would hold, with the full support of teachers amongst whom was a priest, congregational prayers for the mid-day and mid-afternoon prayers for fellow students who wanted to pray. We would even have Islamic circles in our breaks! Islamist Church of England school? Hear hear!
In a true case of judgement before trial, this fiasco has unveiled some unsettling truths regarding the “Islamist extremism” agenda. It seems any politician or journalist can call an organisation or individual an extremist and their life (or lives) will simply fall into a scandal potentially spiralling into psychological damage and pecuniary losses as they defend themselves and “lawyer up”, regardless of whether there is any truth in it. This punishment through social stigma is just as bad as sentencing without trial. If Muslim governors make decisions which accommodate the majority in the school, it becomes a problem. This has been elucidated upon in detail here so I need not dwell on this issue.
Those investigating seem to be taking a prejudiced stance with their actions which has become expected since Islam and the Muslim minority is the current political expediency. These slips include an incredibly biased approach by the Ofsted in the invasive questioning of young children, prejudiced language in referring to Muslim teachers (“the bearded guy”) and selective observation, noting “incriminating” (read as “anything connected to Islam and Muslims”) evidence only. Actions from Ofsted were also being leaked to the media well before the parties involved even knew about it thus indicating to an architected demonization plot – a right-wing neoconservatist plot perhaps? After all, the document name “Trojan Horse” seems to be named after what Geert Wilders called Islam in reference to Europe:
“Madam Speaker, the Islamic incursion must be stopped. Islam is the Trojan Horse in Europe.”
A far-fetched conspiracy theory? Rather like the “Islamic” school takeover plot then.
Tahir Alam has completely rejected the claims, and the strength and confidence of his rejection has now been supported by a “white Anglican Christian governor” at Park View school who has been in this role at the school for 15 years. David Hughes stated:
“In all my time as a governor we have not received a single complaint about ‘extremism’ or ‘radicalism’.
Highlighting the prejudicial nature of Ofsted, he stated:
“The revisit of the inspection team gave every indication of having no wish other than to condemn the school – even the outstanding features,”
He also indicated to former disgruntled employees enjoining the campaign of smear against the school.
Whatever the case the most pertinent point is that this case is being utilised as what I call the “Lee Rigby effect”. “Stronger” measures against the Muslim minority were used in the form of “terror ASBOs”on the back of the Lee Rigby tragedy as David Cameron cited it as a “wake up call” for the government to act and capitalising on the fear of the people, neocon-style. The reality is the same is being attempted here; through smear and stigmatisation, a pretext to limit and restrict the rights of the Muslim minority at the school level is available. The calls by MPs to the Council and Department of Education to “review any lessons learned following the investigation” is a signal of intent for this.
If there are any lessons to be drawn from this fiasco, it should be that procedures in Ofsted in dealing with pupils and schools need to be done responsibly and without prejudice to limit the detrimental effects the Muslim minority eventually suffers. The reality sadly will be that this baseless plot will be used as nothing more than a political pretext to justify a further erosion of liberties. It is for the Muslim minority to ensure this does not happen and to assert themselves, as a Muslim minority in order to challenge this discriminatory treatment.