How Star Academies is Subjecting Muslim Pupils to Militarism, PREVENT and Organisations Deforming Islam

The Trust is frankly obsessed with associating with the military to the obscene insensitivity of the countless Muslim victims of British imperialism, both old and new.

In September 2018, the Trust invited Major General Duncan Capps CPE of the British Army as a key note speaker for their annual conference. He provided “many anecdotes from this time leading operations in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

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Part 1

Part 2

Tauheedul Islam Boys High School, run by Star Academies, was reported in the Times as having started a Cadet Force, to the strange glee of Star Academies Chief Executive Mufti Hamid Patel. This is the third and final piece in a series examining Star Academies. Having outlined the background and the views of some of the Star Academies leadership, this piece will focus on ideological activities and individuals young Muslim pupils are being subjected to.

There is a fringe idea emerging within Deobandi circles (and of course, Barelwi/Salafi groups) in the UK that separates politics from the benefits and opportunities that accrue from militarised initiatives like the National Citizenship Service and the cadet force. The argument is that politics should be blamed on the politicians, and the army/cadet force is an innocent mechanism to provide pupils with opportunities to develop skills, experiences and achieve awards. Aside from the fact that these opportunities can be provided without pandering to military programmes, the idea that there that such initiatives are apolitical is extremely naïve.

Army Objectives

The Ministry of Defence has specific objectives.

The Army has been targeting the UK population to ensure support for some time. General Dannatt would argue after 9/11, that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan required “operations ‘among the people’, ‘about the people’ and ‘for the people’… but ‘the people not just of Iraq and Afghanistan or Pakistan, but also for the people of the United Kingdom, the United States and the West generally”.

As thoroughly established in the first two pieces, militarisation of society is a fundamental component for the neoconservative agenda to foster a closed society. In such a docile society, garnering support for – and participation in – war becomes easier. One of the ways to achieve this is to militarise and indoctrinate the young.

In the context of indoctrination, when the Army Cadet Unit was set up at Rockwood Academy (formerly Park View) in October 2016, it was done so specifically to inoculate Muslim children against “extremism” rendering them into the ever present state of potential terrorism. It was sold as a way of instilling “British pride” and assimilationist “British values”, directly relating to the reformation of Muslim identity. Then Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was clear as to the purpose of this militarisation. Positing Islamic beliefs against “British values” he clearly explained that the role of the cadet force was to indoctrinate and ultimately benefit the military:

“[The school] has been turned around completely and instead of promoting religious segregation, today, as a new academy, it is instilling British values… Helping people develop skills that benefit our military – setting set them up for better careers in civilian life.”

As highlighted previously in a detailed piece, this echoes Nazi-era control of education.

The leading article in the Times on Tauheedul and its cadet force also links this initiative to “extremism”.  Muslims need to be a part of the army otherwise “they may well feel that it is wielded against them, and that sense of alienation is the first step on the path to extremism”.

There is a distinct irony in radicalising Muslims with the violence of the state through the army to inhibit any other form of violence. Additionally, why would Muslims feel it is wielded against them? Is it because the army is “wielded” to effectively kill other Muslims around the world?  The concern over the negativity around the Iraq and Afghanistan has been expressed by the MoD since 2009 (see the Defence Communication Strategy). Exposure to the army and framing opposition to military campaigns as potentially “extremist” is a potent way of inhibiting dissent.

It follows that recruiting Muslims to the army, or at least being exposed to it and its propaganda, is a linked objective. This is apparent from the Times report, with General Carter specifically spotlighting “the relationship between Islam and the army” and the low Muslim recruitment rate.

Targeting the Muslims and the Poor

It is no secret that the Army is struggling to recruit from the Muslim UK population. According to MoD statistics, Muslims make 0.4% of a largely Christian army. The MoD believes the low Muslim recruitment is due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, though this reductionist rationale obviates the theological, political and historic reasons for which Muslims deem working in the army unethical and incompatible with their convictions.

To combat low recruitment rates, the army has been targeting Bradford and Burnley due to its Muslim demographic.

Earlier this year, the Army rolled out a £1.6million recruitment campaign called “This is Belonging”. One of the adds showed a Muslim British soldier praying while the rest of squad patiently waited on an active battlefield. The implication here is that Muslim recruitment directly links to notions of loyalty. The aims of the military and PREVENT become synthesised.

Star Academies is in effect assisting the Army’s targeting of children from poor, ethnic minority backgrounds. The common, colonialism-esque strategy of using domesticated “natives” from the target population to sell an agenda is utilised.  As we shall see further below, the Trust is not the only actor in this colonial dynamic.

Interactions with the Military

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The Trust is frankly obsessed with associating with the military to the obscene insensitivity of the countless Muslim victims of British imperialism, both old and new.

In September 2018, the Trust invited Major General Duncan Capps CPE of the British Army as a key note speaker for their annual conference. He provided “many anecdotes from this time leading operations in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

Children at Star Academies schools have been extensively exposed to the military.  Pupils for instance have been taken to the Lord’s cricket ground to be interviewed by the Armed Forces radio whilst  veteran soldiers are posited as a “role models”. In Birmingham, Eden Boys School works with the Royal Navy to deliver educational sessions.

At Tauheedul Islam Girls High School, Muslim girls are exposed to express military propaganda presented as “humanitarian work” by the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.

In another example, Muslims girls effectively promote the British Army and its achievement, with the army shaping how women empowerment is framed in the process.

This is gross militarism and an exploitation of vulnerable young children that exposes them to potentially life-changing psychological and moral injury.

Major Naveed Muhammad – A Brown Face Whitewashing British state violence

To help normalise this engagement, Muslim pupils are insidiously targeted via a Muslim representative of the Armed Forces: Major Naveed Muhammad.

For example, in one Tweet, Tauheedul Islam Boys High School (TIBHS) shares how Naveed “speaks to our boys on the social contributions of the British Armed Forces”.

In another Tweet, Birmingham-based Eden Boys School thanks Naveed for delivering an assembly on Armistice Day.

Of course, a Muslim face with name like “Muhammad” makes the military indoctrination project palatable to unsuspecting, vulnerable children.

So, who is Naveed?

Naveed is the man tasked to sell a truncated version of history and events to Muslim youth. He is also the chairman of the Armed Forces Muslim Association.

Earlier this year, he wrote a piece for Asian Image . The piece gives a good indication to the type of spin he promotes.

Naveed whitewashes British military invasions and killing – which he labels “engagement” – as “support for local Muslim populations”. He cites Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan as examples of this supposed intention.  This is textbook deradicalization speak and is commonly used by “deradicalization mentors”. To understand the extent of the spin, we’ll briefly examine two examples.

Bosnia/Kosovo had several neocon objectives fulfilled. The primary objective was to secure the tattering credibility of NATO which was increasingly being seen as weak. Another objective was to inhibit the “Islamic militancy” developing due to Serb violence in the heart of Europe.  Pertinently, it helped create the precedent which later could be used to help justify Iraq (Jack Straw, a trustee of Star Academies, proposed invoking this precedent to justify Iraq).

With Iraq, the main proponents were Straussian neocons whom were signatories to the Project for the New American Century.  Jeffrey Record is a professor of strategy at the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama who served in Vietnam.  He writes,

“Behind the decision for war lay a melange of arguments, motives, hopes and expectations: completing the “unfinished business” of the 1991 Gulf War; demonstrating a willingness to use military power and use it unilaterally; asserting the principle of preventative military action; intimidating Iran, North Korea and other rogue states; transforming the Middle East by establishing a model democracy in Iraq for other Arab states to emulate; creating an Arab client-state alternative to Saudi Arabia; eliminating an enemy of Israel; vindicating the Pentagon’s “revolutionary” employment of force…. The decision to invade Iraq was… more about the United States than Iraq. Specifically, the invasion was a conscious expression of America’s unchecked global military hegemony that was designed to perpetuate that hegemony by intimidating those who would challenge it… Iraq was targeted because… [it was] both helpless and friendless. (Record, 2010, p. 25)

The neocon Michael Gove reflects similar motivations in his discussions on foreign policy and Iraq in his anti-Muslim book Celsius 7/7.

Naveed’s suggestion that military force was for the “local Muslim populations” is utterly misleading and inconsistent with political reality.

He also promotes the idea of joining the army on the basis that the military expresses values of “security, justice and protecting freedom” which he believes are “compatible with Islam” and to his understanding of the “Muslim faith”.

Whilst a cursory political and historic analysis of the Middle East shows a trail of destruction, not security, in terms of joining the army, a deeper inquiry is required that necessitates interrogating the metaphysical.

There are moral reasons for why his “army is compatible with Islam” argument is patently false. There are unreconciled aqida (faith) issues associated with fighting for an entity (the state) that considers itself ultimately sovereign and conscripts individuals to fight in the name of contrived, ethereal political religion (for example, nationalist, assimilationist concoction of “British values”, or American “patriotism”).

The Conservative MP Johnny Mercer stated whilst encouraging young people to join the army:

“The application of violence to defeat the enemies of the nation has become worryingly unpopular. Nothing wrong with fighting (yes killing) for values/what you believe in…”

What you believe, is what the state tells you to believe in. And what the state tells you to believe in has a track record of being highly questionable.

Additionally, the army is subservient to a political entity that is inherently amoral. As the above examples of Bosnia and Iraq demonstrate, political and military objectives almost always verge into the immoral: “civilising” backward people through democracy bombs; protecting military interests, forcibly creating friendly nations; protecting Israel; and fostering a neo-Platonic closed society at home through warring and militarisation.  In other words, wars are fought based on the dominant human whim at a given time.

These issues are compounded further by the possibility of killing another Muslim in battle – something which is strongly condemned and categorically prohibited in Islam without just cause.  The War on Terror has resulted in a genocide.

Naveed’s other propaganda expressions are similarly simplistic and deflective.

He appeals to the “shared history” spin – dead Muslims appear in British military cemeteries and therefore, that makes it okay to join the army. Selling an idea that insinuates Muslims will end up in the grave is not a great selling point.

He also makes a “whataboutery” style argument to help deflect from the rather blatant issue of fighting Muslims. Apparently, because the British army is also deployed in other places like North Africa and Eastern Europe, that makes it acceptable for the Army to be deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Do parents at Star Academies schools want their children interacting with such a person?

The link to the Deformation of Islam Agenda

Counter-extremism is intrinsically related to the deformation of Islam. This is due to its fundamental neocon assumption that Islam is inherently violent and therefore in need of a “reformation”. One means of forcing a deformation of Islam is to fracture the Muslim identity, dilute its relevance and forge a new nationalist one. British Future (BF) is one such think-tank which contributes to this agenda.

The think-tank is touted as independent, although, Qari Muhammad Asim is listed among the trustees, raising doubts about this claim. As covered already on the blog, Qari Asim is committed to the faulty, stigmatizing the pro-Israel, neoconservative countering violent extremism (CVE) imperial agenda. He is also a senior editor for the Imams Online website, which has been exposed for being connected to CVE as well as RICU, the British government’s propaganda department tasked to project black propaganda discriminatorily toward the Muslim minority.

British Future (BF) is one such think-tank which contributes to this agenda. The army/WWI propaganda project is a collaborative product of both BF and New Horizons for British Islam (NHBI) and is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. NHBI sells itself, in its own words, as “a forward-looking organisation that works for reform in Muslim thought and practice”. It hosts a plethora of neocon-linked deformists on discussions about Islam.

In a recent article by Hirra Khan Adeogun, project manager for NHBI, a blueprint is articulated to deconstruct, Christianise and render into irrelevance “Sunni Islam”. Consider the following post-modernist mumbo jumbo:

  • The Ummah is a myth
  • Everything beyond the belief in God and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is beyond common agreement.
  • Reference to Islamic groups should be Christianised (an “ecumenical approach” should be taken and groups should be referred to as “denominations”).
  • Popular experiences, culture and personal flaws change religious beliefs.
  • Beliefs Islamic groups consider fundamentally heterodoxic “should be recognised”.

The organisation also contributed and endorsed a dodgy paper giving flawed guidance to schools about Muslim pupils fasting during Ramadan. Hussain was approvingly cited in the shockingly anti-Islam and Muslim Casey Review. After attacking a host of orthodox Islamic beliefs (including those belonging to the Hanafi school) are classed as “regressive”, the report states,

“The idea of a modern British understanding of Islam is also advanced by Dilwar Hussein, founder of New Horizons in British Islam, who argues that the Qur’an should be interpreted for modern times and modern values.”

Naveed has spoken at an event organised by BF called “A Very English Islam”. The event was peppered with deformist rhetoric and the usual “Wahaabi” scapegoating.  Naveed has since featured in their publication on WWI. More recently, he was rolled out again up north, selling WWI romanticism and militarisation and how not many know about the “sacrifices” Muslims made for Britain. The statistics were sourced from BF.

Naveed’s involvement with deformist organisations is not the only issue.

Disconcertingly, BF has also worked with Star Academies schools too. Eden Girl’s School is featured, along with BF personnel and Qari Asim, in this video published last month.  Its theme: WWI and the Muslim contribution.

The above Tweet references two Star Academies schools and was retweeted by Star Academies.

WWI Romanticism

In what must be the one of the most shameless re-writing of history, the period of WWI is presented as a rose-tinted affair in which colonised, subservient Muslims died for the empire.  This narrative is extensively indoctrinated into Muslim children attending Star Academy schools.   As I have highlighted before in some depth, the “shared history” elides colonial violence and impact as it is not conducive for the formation of a docile, compliant citizens:

  • The economic, cultural and physical destruction of India and the Middle East;
  • The impact of the Balfour Declaration, the Sykes-Picot agreement and the taking of Al-Quds and the threat to Al-Aqsa;
  • The resistance of the Ulama, their killing, imprisonment and torture by the British;
  • The rebellions of Muslim soldiers – many of whom were coerced into joining the colonial army – against the British for forcing Muslims to fight against fellow Muslims;
  • The killing of Muslims who dared to resist the colonial administration.

Instead, Muslim children are being brainwashed by Star Academies with a biased, selective history that emphasises empathy with British soldiers and the “Muslim contribution” to propping a colonial Empire. The extent of this brainwashing is frankly nauseating.

The following are examples from TIGHS:

A marine cadet Muslim girl from Eden Girls School Waltham Forrest takes part in Remembrance Day parade:

Eden Boys Manchester:

This year, the National Union of Teachers promoted white poppies. In contrast to red poppies, white poppies represent a commitment to peace remembrance of all victims of war. It challenges attempts to glamorise war. Star Academies, which seems to be at the forefront of glamorising all things exclusively British military, aggressively uses Muslim pupils to promote red poppies and the British Legion in its schools:

PREVENT, Qulliam and the ISD

The problems with the persecutory policy of PREVENT have been already outlined in my previous piece. The policy is completely baseless and its precrime logic enables the demonization of whole groups and legitimises political repression.

Legally, schools do not need to implement the dangerous PREVENT/British values policy – it is not a duty but guidance which does not need to be followed. Schools however, under sceptre of an ideological Ofsted, are being coerced into implementing PREVENT and its concepts.

There is however a distinction between minimally implementing the policy to limit the damage it is causing – namely the internalisation of Islamophobia and collective guilt over crimes, heightened sense of fear and self-censorship-  and actively promoting it at every level of the school and championing it to children.

The PREVENT training of staff is promoted on social media, framing it through the fundamentally fallacious Home Office spin that the policy is about “safeguarding” (it isn’t). Pupils are also imbibed with faulty PREVENT logic.  In one example, Eden Girls school in Coventry is praised by Ofsted for effectively turning pupils into spies:

“…all pupils have had ‘Prevent’ training so that they can recognise and protect themselves from radicalisation and extremism.”

Where the authors of the research that underpins PREVENT state that there is no reliability or validity in their model, how are young children expected to “recognise” the as yet legally-undefined “extremism”? More importantly, this is way above and beyond the PREVENT “duty”.

Another example of Star Academies overcooking its involvement with PREVENT is liaising with a third-party organisation that is linked to neocons and even the Quilliam Foundation. Both girls’ and boys’ Islamic schools have exposed children to PREVENT sessions handled by Reveal Theatre.

This was in turn promoted by Northants PREVENT:

Reveal Theatre was listed in a leaked Home Office documented titled “Prevent Strategy – Local Delivery Best Practice Catalogue”. It targets school children aged between twelve and fourteen with material that seeks to increase “critical thinking skills”.

The material, however, is disturbing. In its resources section, one article declares all strands of political Islam, including the Muslim Brotherhood, “extremist” – a faulty neoconservative narrative as noted by Peter Oborne.

Also listed is the widely discredited, neocon-handled Quilliam Foundation and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD). The ISD is shaping the (neocon/pro-Israel) narrative for the global counter-extremism industry. The Board of Trustees President of ISD was George Weidenfeld, a pro-Israeli who co-signed a petition which states that, “Israeli land concessions, will never bring peace”. Co-signatories include neocon extremists like war-mongering Norman Podhoretz, Michael Ledeen, and the Zionist Nina Rosenwald, financier of the multimillion dollar Islam-hating industry. Weidenfeld, it should also be noted, was the “inspiration” for Michael Gove’s anti-Muslim neocon Bible Celsius 7/7.

Again, should parents allow their kids to be brainwashed by such organisations?

Concluding Remarks

This final piece demonstrates the endpoint of the neocon/neoliberal policy continuity outlined in the first two pieces.

The Twitter accounts for schools under Star Academies are replete with activities suffused with problematic activities and narratives.  Star Academies intertwines structurally Islamophobic policies like PREVENT with militarisation agendas with both aimed at deconstructing the Muslim identity.  What worsens this is that Muslim pupils are being exposed to individuals and organisations that propound selective history and a deformation of Islam, effectively ensuring the internalising Islamophobia and self-hate.

Parents and staff must think long and hard about the moral-spiritual implications of this.

The leadership of Star Academies are also responsible for exposing children to the possibility of being recruited into the army. This career is fraught with issues:

  • Mental health problems have risen by 78% in the last eight years (such as PTSD), with women twice as likely as men being diagnosed with illness.
  • Adolescents may be also developmental issues.
  • A compromised moral compass due to moral injury
  • There are significant concerns around readjusting to civilian life; the above points contribute to an increasingly high number of ex-soldiers ending up homeless and/or in crime.
  • The possibility of being deployed to Muslim regions and killing other Muslims.

The risk to young Muslim pupils is the destruction of both Deen (religion) and Dunya (worldly affairs).

Parents must realise the threat to their children both worldly and spiritual in these schools and start raising these concerns to their schools and consider removing their children if necessary.

Mufti Hamid Patel would similarly do well to reflect on the behemoth that has been created. Given the good Mufti’s concern for high achievement and securing a better future for pupils, I believe that the abovementioned risks and concerns – that directly impact Iman – are ones which the CEO of Star Academies does not want to shoulder.


References:

Record, J., 2010. Wanting War: Why the Bush Administration Invaded Iraq. Washington D.C.: Potomac Books, Inc.

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2 thoughts on “How Star Academies is Subjecting Muslim Pupils to Militarism, PREVENT and Organisations Deforming Islam

  1. Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    “Star Academies intertwines structurally Islamophobic policies like PREVENT with militarisation agendas with both aimed at deconstructing the Muslim identity. What worsens this is that Muslim pupils are being exposed to individuals and organisations that propound selective history and a deformation of Islam, effectively ensuring the internalising Islamophobia and self-hate.”

  2. Pingback: NZF funded individuals linked to counter extremism and Israel | 5Pillars

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