The Olive Tree Muslim faith school is fighting back and not cowering under the pressure of the prejudiced, compromised and neocon-driven Ofsted’s report. If we recall, this was the same school in which a child was potentially sexually and psychologically abused by an Ofsted inspector. Once again, the parents are urged to take action against Ofsted for this unforgiveable blunder.
Ofsted’s Attack Islam
Unable to really criticise the schools achievements, Ofsted have resorted to attacking the religion of the teachers themselves and based on Islamic books present in the library of the school, fallen to making extremely inflammatory remarks based on inherent anti-Muslim sentiment:
“the Olive Tree primary school in Luton – fails to prepare its pupils “for life in modern Britain, as opposed to life in a Muslim state”, and that its library contains books that are “abhorrent to British society” in their depiction of punishments under sharia law.”
“Some books in the children’s library contain fundamentalist Islamic beliefs (Salafi) or are set firmly within a Saudi Arabian socio-religious context. Some of the views promoted by these books, for example about stoning women, have no place in British society,”
The “fundamentalist” teachings are a part of normative, mainstream Islamic theology. The Ofsted is supposed to be an impartial organisation (a laughable claim I know). Thus to make judgmental statements about the laws within a religion in a public capacity, is a wanton attack on that religion and exemplifies the extreme prejudice. Does Ofsted’s remit now entail what is “abhorrent to British society”? And will these apply this test to other schools of differing faiths with similar views? The fact that claims of “Salafi” beliefs is drawn from the religious leanings of the teacher’s shows the extent at which the Ofsted is attempting to smear the school and Islam. The objectionable content raised by Ofsted is not exclusively “Salafi” or “fundamentalist” but is in fact part of mainstream Islamic legislative understanding. Thus to attack this as “abhorrent” is to attack Islam and its adherents.
The Ofsted report has stated that the “pupil’s contact with people from different cultures, faiths and traditions is too limited to promote tolerance and respect for the views, lifestyles and customs of other people”. A grand statement indeed coming from an inspectorate which calls the practices within Islam “abhorrent”.
As ever, we welcome a discussion, but there is no need to attack a religion based upon one’s highly subjective beliefs, especially as what follows, demonstrates, shockingly, that these comments are highly opportunistic.
Ofsted Fabricating Statements
Ofsted have actually fabricated the abovementioned claims. The school, calling the Ofsted statements an “outright fabrication”, stated:
“We have a large number of books about different faiths, which the inspectors failed to notice, including The Diary of Ann Frank,” said Farasat Latif, the school’s chair of governors, who said the library also included works of fiction by authors such as Roald Dahl.”
The school further stated:
“The inspectors scrutinised the pupils’ books and found no evidence of fundamentalist beliefs being taught. So their judgment is on the religion and not what is being taught.”
The Ofsted have clearly biased agendas. Their aim is to incriminate as opposed to assist the schools in achieving better. The highlighting of “Salafi” understanding tallies with my investigation with schools in Birmingham, in which teachers were asked which mosques they visited, presumably to ascertain to their theological leanings. Such personal intrusions, coupled with a catalogue of procedural problems, which have led to children being psychologically abused is highly indicative of the incredibly discriminatory approach Ofsted is taking at the behest of the neocons.
The Political Weapon: Michael Wilshaw
As mentioned in my previous blog, Zionism is promoted as part of the school syllabus in one Jewish school. Will the potential “radicalisation” which gives primacy to the state of Israel over Britain be investigated? Will the Talmudic theology which has extreme punishments and “discriminatory” Jewish marriage laws be condemned as “abhorrent” as well? Farooq Murad’s letter to the instrument of the government that Michael Wilshaw is, in essence makes this point. It will certainly be interesting to see his response.
Michael Wilshaw was appointed by Michael Gove, who called him his “hero”. The Michaels share a good relationship. Upon his assumption of his role as chief inspector, Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers said that Ofsted had become a political weapon:
“…Ofsted [is] being viewed by nobody as independent from the secretary of state. It’s now being seen by teachers not as an inspection system, but as an arm of government… Many of the pronouncements coming out of Ofsted seem to be absolutely equal to things Michael Gove has said. I think it’s bad for the chief inspector and I think it’s bad for public accountability.”
Keates highlights that Gove’s direction and desires are brought into practice by Wilshaw:
“Michael Gove’s view is that the state system is broken. Michael Wilshaw’s view is that he is going to prove it.”
In other words, like Tom Shinner, the Department for Educations Director of Strategy, Wilshaw is another Michael Gove pawn. Michael Gove’s aim and priority from the outset is to target Muslims and Muslim schools. Yvonne Ridley highlights this point in her brilliant article which can be read here. Despite their recent apparent opposition, there is a clear indication of the Osfted fulfilling Gove’s dirty desires. Based on this, I would not count on a promising reply from Wilshaw to Murad’s letter.
Other schools need to replicate what Olive Tree faith school has done and challenge the thug-like pressure being unduly placed on Muslim schools. This targeting of the Muslim minority and now, blatant attacks on Islam are clearly agenda-driven by the anti-Muslim Gove and must be fought back and resisted. The reality of this onslaught is not dissimilar to the school’s response to this fiasco:
“The draft report from Ofsted was Michael Wilshaw’s way of teaching a Muslim school a bloody good lesson for daring to stand up to them, an attitude not dissimilar to how the colonial masters dealt with the restless natives,”