One must question the closeness of Gilligan’s crusade against the formerly high achieving Parkview School and the tying together of possible administrative issues with the extremism agenda. After all, it has already been highlighted that there have been procedural irregularities on the part of the several inspections Park View schools has undergone thus far, these include, and are certainly not limited to,
a) Inconsistent procedures – what procedures were employed to rank the school high-achieving before and which has now resulted in the Ofsted rating being lowered – Were Ofsted previously inept at their job or are they being forced into doing a government-toed, media-driven job?
b) Ofsted leaking confidential reports before being quality assured to Gilligan
c) Inspectors asking leading, engineered questions which produce particular answers, making the students uncomfortable
d) Selective assessment by the inspectors (taking pictures of a wall about Islam, ignoring posters about multi-cultural societies)
e) Anti-Muslim, biased inspectors as judged from their remarks about “beards” and Muslim men (ignoring the fact that schools was in an area in which the demographic was high in Muslims), leading questions asked of students and even innuendo
As the assistant-head Mr Cladingbowl rightly asked, “How can we have faith in the fairness of the inspection after that?”
On top of this you have the former head of Counter Terrorism Peter Clarke being appointed to lead the investigation into the schools – if there was any way of driving home the message of targeting the Muslim minority with spades, pick-axes, and garden forks, this is it.
And now we have the full report, again leaked to Mr Gilligan before the school was aware of it. The report is a masterful demonstration of how manipulating language can make perfectly acceptable actions seem sinister. For instance the issue of leaving GCSE subjects is perfectly within the discretion of school, but since the overall climate of “Jihadist terror school” plot has been engineered, everything – even legitimate actions – are an excuse to sanction. As for the rest of the claims, all have been vociferously opposed by the non-Muslim governor at Park View School as “fictitious”.
To add further doubt to Gilligan’s crusade comes another, Christian voice and Vice Chair of school in Small Heath Birmingham, which is also currently under investigation.
Father Oliver Cross writes,
The appointment of Peter Clarke is a disaster for community cohesion in East Birmingham. Majority Islamic neighbourhoods are well used to the ‘terror’ maps produced by the police, with big red blotches strategically placed over my church to scare me into submission; they are used to the Counter-Terrorist ‘Neighbourhood’ Unit; and they are used to accusations of ‘Islamism’ or ‘extremism’ being hurled at them, not because such things exist, but for the simple crime of being Muslims.
“National Government and, through it’s incompetence and inaction, Local Government have wilfully allowed legitimate inquiry into the running of state schools in Birmingham, to become a full-blown attack on some of the most impoverished areas of our nation. These are areas where Anjem Choudary has been chased off by other Muslims, in which the voices of faith speak tolerance and acceptance – accepting, by the way, people faith more warmly than the spiritual vacuum of secularism…
I serve as Vice-Chair of Governors at Regents Park School in Birmingham, a school named in the press as being among those ‘infiltrated’. I categorically refute those allegations, and have demonstrated their emptiness to HM Inspectors for Schools. Once allegations have been made, the complainants expect and the schools have a responsibility, to see that those claims are answered and investigated to the point of reasonable doubt. To those processes I submit myself gladly and openly – I have nothing to hide, and nothing about which to be ashamed.
State Schools follow the policies and procedures that are modelled for them by the Local Authority: until recently, this included nothing on PREVENT, and included an RE strategy and syllabus which is now condemned as Islamicising. Only a few years ago, it was trumpeted as a means by which stronger communities might be built. This unbelievable over-reaction risks sending Muslims into the darkness, because they fear being branded ‘Islamists’ simply for being who they are.”
Ending on a wonderful grass-roots message of the reality of the Muslim areas targeted by Gilligan and his crusade, the honourable father re-assures the Muslim community that Christians are with them.
Gilligan’s anti-Muslim prejudice sharpens as he, once again, attacks normative Islamic values held by the majority of Muslims, and which tantamount to an explicit attack on the Muslim minority. It worsens further as he attacks a well-known Shafi’i scholar of Palestinian origin, Shaykh Shadi al-Sulieman, for adhering to normative Islamic beliefs and accuses him of being anti-Semitic and an Al-Qaeda sympathiser – presumably because Shaykh Shadi is a Semite himself and has spoke out about the Gaza massacre of 2008/9. Shaykh Shady is known to the Muslim minority of Britain as an incredibly self-less communitarian scholar from the Shafi’i tradition and has in fact advised youngsters to stay away from terrorism. The accusations are patently false.
So what is the truth? Does it lie with a known, neocon-serving anti-Muslim writer with little integrity? Or biased, prejudiced inspectors belonging to Ofsted which itself is suspiciously leaking documents to the media to further the barrage of hate? Or is it the members of the community of Birmingham themselves?
One thing is for sure, the relentless negative attention on the Muslim minority, despite clear procedural lapses on the part of inspectors and Ofsted, and the fact that evidence from the community who state the contrary not being promoted in the mass-media to the same level, is tantamount to minority discrimination of the highest order.