I felt a tendency to shake my head when I read a recent report highlighting the “equal” application of Ofsted guidelines in promoting “British values” to Christian and Jewish schools.
During the start of the Trojan Hoax attacks, state officials actively demonised Islamic beliefs by mixing orthodox practices with unsavoury acts in their statements, all the while dog-whistling Christian members of the public by suggesting some British values are “Christian”. This was in tune with the broader political landscape at that time. Indeed, it has been strongly alleged that evangelical Christian teachers linked to Birmingham’s Riverside Church had major involvement in the writing of the fabricated “Trojan Horse” letter. Teachers who brought allegations against Muslims included those of evangelical background, and the very same allegations against them were never investigated. Of course, such allegations, including Christian takeover plots (see here, here and here), were of no interest to the anti-Muslim, neocon Michael Gove. To scapegoat the Muslim minority only, while ignoring other schools, and to abuse the Muslim minority as some sort of glutton for punishment upon which the PREVENT Strategy which defines “British values” can be cemented, was nothing short of bullying and minority discrimination.
“British values” had become sacred in the attack against Islam and Muslims, as neoconservatives, scapegoating the Muslims, started to successfully engineer and impose these faux values for their longer-term agenda to court symbols necessary to unify and conform the people of Britain under a nationalist neo-religion which serves neoconservative interests.
Sometime after, though, Christian and Jewish faith schools began to feel some of the heat from the fire started by Michael Gove.
Around October 2014, when the sudden change in Ofsted policy started to affect a wider diaspora of schools, Jewish and Christian schools started to become collateral in the neocon strategies. The Christian Institute challenged the assertion of “British values” to combat extremism as having “disturbing consequences” for faith schools. In a letter to Nicky Morgan, they wrote “that the new requirements are infringing the rights of children, parents, teachers and schools to hold and practise their religious beliefs.” The right-wing media positively portrayed the concerns of Christians. Church of England, Catholic and Jewish concerns, (which were raised by Muslims also, but drowned out in the endless media demonisation), were taken on board, with proposed changes to the Religious Education curriculum being “watered” down. Of course, Christians and Jews are not “extremists” for challenging secular values.
Returning to the latest report, it highlights that pupils have been asked inappropriate questions around homosexuality for instance, and Christian schools are being adjudged negatively accordingly. Back in May 2014, I brought to attention how a Muslim child had been treated in the same manner, where an inspector without an appropriate adult, had been quizzed on similar topics, and had left him scared and intimidated. At that time, apart from the Guardian, no other paper reproduced the story. Now however, the neocon-peddler papers are not very happy about policies being applied equally.
The Daily Fail piece makes for interesting reading. The previously unwavering, poles of truth that were “British values” are now in doubt. The words British values are now surrounded by quotation marks, and have become pre-fixed with “so-called”. The comments section is reeling from the impact, with Nicky Morgan becoming a “pest”, UKIP becoming the party of choice for some and the ideas of British values now classed as “unsavoury”. Quite.
Similarly the Jewish Chronicle published an article declaring that Ofsted is “unfairly targeting Jewish schools” according to Ofsted’s own inspectors. Inspectors in Jewish schools were responding to demands to dress modestly by stating that the schools need to “adapt” to inspectors. One of the Rabbis slammed Ofsted, describing their aims as a “hodge-podge of left-wing ideals” that were designed to clamp down on institutions “that don’t conform to their ideology”. For all intents and purposes, such a statement is “extremism” according to the PREVENT Strategy!
British values. Great for battering Muslims with. Not so great when they start affecting Jews and Christians.
Nicky Morgan tried to employ an emotional device, echoing neocons, in order bring some sort of justification to why she was going to continue the crusade of a harsh interpretation of secularism started by her predecessor, the neoconservative, bigoted, Michael Gove:
“The events in Birmingham last year showed what happened, when those that don’t subscribe to our fundamental British values try to hijack our education system, radicalise our children and break those societal bonds. What happened in Paris this month, showed what can happen when people like that succeed.”
An essay on each point of this quote can be written but suffice to say, it’s a repugnant statement. The Clarke report was a complete hatchet-job which was designed to conclude the “education system” was being “hijacked” by Muslims who adhered to, in essence, mainstream Islam. To then jump from such a tenuous proposition to the killings in Paris requires more than a leap of faith, especially given the fact the underpinning theory which supports her outrageous claim has been rejected by leading academics in the field of counter-terrorism. It’s a vile, disengenous and unsubstantiated link which is designed to sickeningly feed off the killings in Paris.
The societal bonds were torn apart when the entire weight of the government was pressed on the Muslim minority in Birmingham; when their voices were literally supressed by the government and mainstream media; and when investigatory reports only took into account the unsworn, hearsay statements of individuals who may have had a vendetta to realise. In Birmingham, suspensions of numerous Muslim teachers continue unabated, whilst non-Muslim teachers have yet to be investigated. The situation harks back to the dark formative era of Nazi Germany and the removal of teachers purely for being Jewish.
It’s “extremist” behaviour like this which sows the seeds of resentment, and shatters societal bonds.
It is for broader British public to fully understand the impact of the strategies being pushed by the government. PREVENT is set to create the 21st century Stasi state. And the one subject to this neocon insanity will not only be the second class citizens that are the Muslim minority, but every citizen of this country.