The weaponization of LGBT concerns is not new in the West. In 1994 the US military reportedly sought to develop a “gay bomb” that would be spread by the Air force behind enemy lines. The aim was ultimately to increase distraction and reduce military efficacy. In the runup to the 2003 Iraq invasion, the CIA floated the idea of shooting a fake video of Saddam cavorting with a teenage boy. The aim? Destabilisation of his regime. More recently, Israel has been using LGBT promotion as propaganda to deflect focus from the suffering of Palestinians.
This mode of abusing a contentious issue to cause disruption in pursuit of an agenda seems to be surfacing in a recent set of events in the Saltley area of Birmingham.
Once again, the area has become ground-zero for Muslims becoming the subject of national debate. Per the norm with such “debates”, the negative framing sees Muslims couched as the regressive aggressor battling enlightenment, equality and the “victim”; in this case a white gay headteacher who is, he professes, merely teaching what is law.
Andrew Moffat is the 46-year-old assistant headteacher of Parkfield Community School, which has a high population of Muslims.
In 2014, he developed his own syllabus – Challenging Homophobia in Schools (CHIPS) – which focussed on promoting homosexual relationships and tackling homophobia.
As early as 2015, opposition to CHIPS was used to demonise the Muslim community by bolstering the then renewed, Islamophobic Trojan Horse claims made by the head of Birmingham school, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson. These claims, as I repeatedly exposed during that period, were found to be baseless if not a complete fabrication.
Returning to Moffat, he resigned from his previous school after exposing children to CHIPS without knowledge or consent of parents. Moffat changed his tack and used indirect means to promote his views through the discourse of British values and the Equality Act, giving emergence to a set of teaching resources and approaches called “No Outsiders”. According to Schools Week, Moffat saw Muslims as a challenge to be overcome for the distribution of his syllabus and his civilising mission.
What followed seems like efforts to subject mainly Muslim children to social engineering experiments.
With a personally-written piece in the Independent, and glowing puff pieces in the slightly left-of-the-right Guardian praising Moffat’s civilising mission, the No Outsiders project up until recently was touted as a success story. In 2017, he was awarded an MBE for services to equality and diversity in education, and a year later short-listed for the annual Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize.
This perception of success and successful placating of Muslim parents was shattered when a group of Muslim mothers earlier this year protested and petitioned against the No Outsiders programme. One of the mothers was reported to have removed her child from the school. Another asserted that her four-year-old child came home asking her whether it was acceptable for her to be a boy. Their concern was that the programme was “putting ideas into their heads”.
The school played down the level of dissent claiming that it was a “small group of parents”. Hundreds have been engaged in community events and protested outside the school to oppose Moffat’s project.
Alum Rock councillor Mohammed Idrees supported the mothers before rapidly being forced into an apology after being reported to the Birmingham City Council’s Standard Committee by gay councillor Gareth Moore.
With mainstream media coverage, Moffat told the press, that his sexuality triggered the opposition and that he should be “able to teach safely”. In a Trojan Horse-esque spin, he told BirminghamLive that he “felt threatened” due to the protestors.
The victimised narrative is interesting. The parents have virtually no institutional or mainstream media support. Moffat however, not only has the media framing his views in a positive light with some light-touch interviews but is supported by various central and local government individuals and organs.
During an interview with ITV’s Good Morning, Adil Ray, the presenter, declared parents opposing the No Outsiders project homophobic.
Speaking to the BBC, Moffat said,
“what keeps me going is the support from the school which is absolutely brilliant, the DfE, Ofsted, the city council.”
Earlier this month, Cllr John Cotton, outlined his support for the “No Outsiders” project, with his statement being published on the Birmingham City Council (BCC) website. Welcoming the apology from Cllr Idrees, Labour MP Liam Byrne also supported Moffat’s project.
Jones is the deputy leader of the BCC. She is a “passionate supporter of and advocate for the terrific #NoOutsiders programme”. It is worth recalling that the debunked anti-Muslim conspiracy theory that was the Trojan Horse was initially fuelled by Jones who provided the trash paper Daily Mail statements suggesting “hundreds” of reports, some of which “directly connected to the Trojan Horse letter” were received by the BCC. During that period, Jones also contributed to a “debate” by the BBC entitled, What Faith in Our Schools? She concurred with the presenter’s assertion (based on the bogus Kershaw report) that there was a “culture of fear” of being labelled Islamophobic. In other words, she was happy to pass the buck of the Council’s failings to the already demonised Muslim community, whilst devaluing the reality of Islamophobia.
Pertinent here is Jones’ support for “subliminal” messaging as an approach to developing Muslim “resiliency”. The following part of an interview with Chamberlain Files is frankly disturbing:
“Birmingham city council has been working behind the scenes to address some of the difficult cultural issues exposed by the various Trojan Horse inquiries… A new series of books written and designed in Birmingham is being used to introduce children to the idea that some people are different. It’s all done very gently, almost subliminally, along the lines of explaining that some children might have two mummies for example, or two daddies, “and that’s fine”, says Jones.”
Moffat’s support comes from someone who is “fine” with secret brainwashing.
Diamond, as deputy education commissioner for the DfE, came in soon after the Trojan Horse incident started to manage the affair. There are a bevy damaging allegations against Diamond and his influence during the Trojan Horse. He was alleged to have been instrumental in directing various changes at Park View School, through a proxy, Kamal Hanif. Diamond allegedly also facilitated the takeover of Oldknow School by ARK – an academy chain known to have connections with the head of Ofsted Michael Wilshaw, big corporations and Zionists who fund the Tories. Allegations from Springfield Primary school in 2015 suggested that Diamond was involved in forcing an IEB to replace the governing body.
Support from anti-Islam Hatemongers
Support for Moffat has also been acknowledged from some insidious quarters.
Ex-Muslim Yasmine Mohammed praised Moffat. Moffat reciprocated this with his gratitude to her before condescendingly claiming that the protesting parents “do not understand” the No Outsiders project.
Yasmine’s circle closely aligns with deplorable neocons and their enablers. Her website described the following as her friends:
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali – is a virulently anti-Muslim neocon with a dubious back story, who declared that Islam had to be “defeated” and “crushed”. Anders Breivik cited Ayaan in his 1,500-page manifesto.
- Sam Harris – has stated that “we are at war with Islam”, which is a “threat to us” and that fascists “speak most sensibly about the threat Islam poses”.
- Maajid Nawaz – is the founder of Quilliam Foundation, which has received funding from Harris and Tea Party conservatives and has links to the Islamophobia industry’s finest. He co-authored a book with Harris, despite Harris not recanting his statements. In 2015, Nawaz endorsed Ayaan’s anti-Islam book.
These connections are relevant because Moffat thanked Bangash for his support on Twitter. Bangash has declared that “Islam is backward and barbaric”. He stated, “legislate against Islam & prohibit Muslim from job”.
Bangash has spoken on the same platform as Namazie and has been praised by Gita Sahgal, all of whom have a frothing hatred of Islam. Namazie believes that “religion kills” but Islam in particular should be singled out for further discriminatory treatment. She has called for the banning of the face veil and supported the “illiberal” ban on Hijab. Sahgal has praised Namazie whilst similarly advocating for the banning of the Hijab. She also negatively exceptionalises the treatment of Muslims.
This is quite the circle of supporters for Moffat’s project!
Support from PREVENT
Support, unsurprisingly, also came from those connected to PREVENT.
Sean Arbuthnot’s Tweet was retweeted by Moffat. Arbuthnot is the PREVENT coordinator for Leicestershire. PREVENT, from inception and to continued application today, discriminatorily targets Muslims. Arbuthnot, however, spends his efforts trying to spin and sell PREVENT as a policy that is not discriminatory by arguing that increased far-right referrals prove it is a fair and non-discriminatory policy.
The support from PREVENT profiteers and whitewashers is not surprising.
No Outsiders, PREVENT and “Community Cohesion”
Parents protesting elements of the No Outsiders have been attempting to tackle the branch rather than the root: PREVENT.
In a presentation by Parkfield School head teacher, Hazel Pulley, No Outsiders is shown to be developed specifically to “reduce radicalisation” in children “from nursery onwards” and respond to “ideological challenges” to the PREVENT-defined British values. In other words, Muslim children are to be treated as potential terrorists and remedied with the cure of No Outsiders indoctrination.
The No Outsiders project is based on two books authored by Moffat: No Outsiders in Our School and Reclaiming Radical ideas in Schools. In a Guardian article firmly locating the narrative in a mainly Muslim context, radicalisation and the Trojan Horse conspiracy theory, readers are informed that, with his second book, Moffat is “looking at counter-radicalism”.
Moffat’s biography on the “Tackling Radicalisation in Education Conference” website echoing this view states,
“Andrew’s new book, ‘Reclaiming radical ideas…’ uses No Outsiders parent workshops to foster community cohesion and reduce potential for radicalisation.”
Moffat believes that PREVENT is necessary and that “community cohesion” should be adopted to tackle radicalisation. Moreover, this community cohesion is to be done by using the “equality ethos” vis-à-vis the No Outsiders project.
The issue for Muslims in particular, is that “community cohesion” is a demonising extension of PREVENT-based logics: the warring, Rumsfeldian doctrine of pre-emption. The aim is to “target and pre-empt the conditions of emergence of radical subjects” and govern an impossibly knowable future:
“Through an engagement with a premediated future that envisages the non-British as ever-threatening, community cohesion seeks to generate and maximise normalised, British identities and values, and to minimise those that are disassociated from this normality. [This] bears marked similarities to… contemporary US counterinsurgency doctrine.” (Martin, 2014)
In other words, community cohesion entrenches Muslims as a demonised identity to be targeted.
Moffat replicates this logic. Writing in his book, and explicitly citing the Prevent Duty, Moffat explains the agenda behind his agenda:
“In the original No Outsiders book I referenced radicalisation briefly; however since then I have been developing the resource with a specific aim to prevent young people from being drawn in to terrorism, rather than as a resource simply to promote equality and diversity… Of course, the two courses go hand in hand; we reduce radical ideas by promoting community cohesion through an understanding and celebration of diversity and equality. To advocate radical ideas is to reject the ideals and values of community cohesion. The No Outsiders strategy ensures an equality ethos is clear from the outset; we not only respond to radical ideas if and when they emerge, but more importantly we proactively promote an alternative narrative to reduce the risk in the first place.” (Moffat, 2018, pp. 1-2)
Various aspects of the No Outsiders book are therefore identified by Moffat as being in response to PREVENT (Moffat, 2016, pp. 15, 30).
This agenda is not limited to his proclamations in his books.
His Twitter timeline shows that this structural demonization is driven further in to Muslims children at Parkfield.
Counter-Terrorism and Negative Framing
Moffat believes “we must talk in schools about terror attacks but use our equality ethos”. He regularly publishes material on his blog and encourages its use for assemblies because “schools must talk” about attacks that have occurred (see examples, here, here and here).
Moffat justifies this by arguing that “children hear these news stories and are searching for answers” (Moffat, 2018, p. 2). One would reasonably assume that parents would be contacted if a child did raise a question. Moffat believes, however, that he is fit to provide these answers.
His answers, though, seek to reconstruct the Muslim mind along the way. Moffat advises:
“When talking about tragic events such as terror attacks to young people, explain that not everyone agrees with us and no outsiders.”
His No Outsiders programme is thus posited as the benchmark for normality. Any difference to this is impliedly associated with terror attacks. This view is further reinforced in his book. Thus, for Moffat, a “rise in radicalisation” is linked to views that diverge from “the messages of equality that they hear inside [school]” (Moffat, 2016, p. 3)
Outlining a lesson plan, Moffat disturbingly links children being stopped from talking about “difference and diversity” to Nazis before identifying “no outsiders” as a solution (Moffat, 2016, p. 76). The implication is that opposition to the No Outsiders project is akin to Nazi repression.
Ironically, however, the repression of beliefs and ideas is exercised by the school.
In one example of Moffat’s counter-terrorism efforts, despite its ostensibly positive framing, a negative incident (terrorist attack) is brought to attention to young Muslim children, thereby reinforcing the connection between the Muslim pupils and terrorism. In No Outsiders the Charlie Hebdo attacks are cited, with Moffat highlighting how he shared an image of Muslim women holding placards reading “I am Muslim, not a terrorist” (Moffat, 2016, p. 19).
This type of imagery contributes to an unhealthy collective guilt dynamic that embeds the need to respond to acts of political violence. Against a backdrop of continuous demands of Muslims to condemn disconnected acts of political violence around the world, this serves as a toxic method of teaching that internalises Islamophobia.
There is also the “selective outrage” problem with Moffat’s approach. Why does Moffat not mention the harder implementation of his civilising mission has resulted in RAF “precision airstrikes” killing innocent Muslims? Or the Jewish settlers killing Palestinians? Or the disabled Palestinians that are shot in the back by murderous Israeli forces?
The desire to regulate discourse and indoctrinate is selective for Moffat.
Referring Muslim Children
The aforementioned Hazel Pulley presentation disconcertingly highlights how staff at Parkfield “must report anything they feel uneasy about.” Between 2014 and 2015, the school referring eleven cases to the PREVENT lead. Of these, shockingly, three were referred to the Counter Terrorism Unit.
To understand the types of cases being referred, it is worth looking at the case of a ten-year-old Muslim child who attended Parkfield. In 2015, it was reported that the child “raised concerns” when he asked for a prayer room on a residential trip, encouraged girls to wear a hijab, and expressed an “alternate view” on the Charlie Hebdo attack.
The experience of the child referred for potentially terrorist signs or, “anything” teachers “feel uneasy about” is something that must be taken seriously. Moffat and the school are in effect bullying children into submission to state-sanctioned ideology and Moffat’s personal beliefs. The traumatic experience of going through a PREVENT referral must also be considered: self-censoring and psychological harm are outcomes that have already been well-document in other PREVENT-referrals.
I have already extensively covered the brainwashing effects of subjecting children to militarism, as well as how particular symbolism, like the red poppy, contributes to the propagandising of skewed, colonialism-friendly history, and a reformation of Muslim identity concordant to a neoconservative worldview. Moffat promotes these themes.
One of the books Moffat prescribes is Where the Poppies Grow (Moffat, 2016, p. 72). The book shows children digging trenches and joining military services whilst explaining the purpose of the poppy. The materials impress upon children the need to “never forget”.
Among his online resources, under the theme “British values” and “community cohesion”, Moffat has a picture of Ahmadis selling poppies as part of Remembrance day along with the “acceptable Muslim” narrative where the positive role models for Muslim children are those who died for colonialism and empire.
Incidentally, this sits rather awkwardly with other material Moffat proposes. Other lesson plans, for instance, cover managing differences, and how people should communicate instead of engaging in fights (p.64). How does one reconcile this with messages of children going on to join the army precisely to fight, and exposing young Muslim children to militarism?
Between state and media-supported cries of victimisation by Moffat and hundreds of protesting and petitioning parents, lies the noxious policy of PREVENT.
Alongside problems already raised, parents protesting the school’s materials must bring focus to this root of the problem.
The affair presents a conundrum for those, like Moffat, who speak from their high chairs of moral rectitude as they coerce acceptance upon the brutish Muslim caricature through the lingua franca and the mechanics of PREVENT: how can you even speak of respecting differences when you wield a structurally Islamophobic policy that mimics US counter-insurgency doctrines against little Muslim children? How does one reconcile anti-bullying initiatives with the state-sanctioned bullying of kids through PREVENT?
The questions will continue for Moffat.
In the next piece, I will examine how Moffat employs misleading statements about the law to intimidate and enforce his No Outsiders agenda. I will also demonstrate how, by doing this, Moffat circumvents regulations of SRE delivery.
Martin, T., 2014. Governing an unknowable future: the politics of Britain’s Prevent policy. Critical Studies on Terrorism, pp. 62-78.
Moffat, A., 2016. No Outsiders in Our School. London: Speechmark Publishing.
Moffat, A., 2018. Reclaiming Radical Ideas in School. Oxon: Routledge.