A report last month triggered some consternation in Muslim circles. On the 26th of November, Star Academies – formerly, Tauheedul Educational Trust – was reported in the Times as having started an army cadet force at Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School (TIBHS). It recorded a celebratory statement from the Star Academies chief executive Hamid Patel:
“They have recently been reflecting on the 400,000 Muslims who fought alongside the British Army for freedom during World War I…. So the launch of the cadet unit at TIBHS will be particularly poignant… We are excited that this will be the first cadet unit in the country established by a Muslim faith school.”
The report added that “local mosque leaders” had “given their blessing” to the militarisation of children and was being supported by parents and governors.
On the same day, a companion leading article with the subtitle “Cadet forces at Islamic schools could help to make the army more diverse” was also published in the same paper. Both articles framed the news with three themes:
- “improving relations with Muslim communities”
- Selective history where Muslims are only seen to die for a dying British empire
- The army’s inability to “recruit from the Muslim community”.
The report was reproduced in a regional media outlet and the Asian Image. The latter report usefully shared tweets from Star Academies and TIBHS’s Twitter accounts. Star Academies stated that they were “proud that [TIBHS] had become the first Islamic Faith School in the UK to start an army cadet force”. TIBHS’s tweet claimed it was a “milestone”. The report also showed a Tweet from the racist Home Secretary Sajid Javid sharing the Times report declaring it to be “wonderful”.
There are deeply problematic issues with the activities of Star Academies and the psychological projects it is subjecting Muslim children to. Pertinently, the Trust exemplifies a dangerous concoction of neoliberal and neoconservative policies.
In this piece, we will examine how the Star Academies has formed this troubling trajectory which has led to a disconcerting endpoint.
The trend is seeded in the period of 2011/12 when submissions were made to turn TIBHS into an academy. This was followed by waves of free school submissions. The submission forms reveal an insight into how Tauheedul has been pandering to detrimental policies from the outset.
Tauheedul states that it is “inspired by Deobandi Sunni Muslim values”. What will become apparent is that these set of values are not the only ones touted.
Discriminatory Michael Wilshaw’s Problem with Islam and Muslims
Treatment of Jewish Religious Schools Evidences Muslim Minority Discrimination
Why is the Extremism Label not being Applied to the Orthodox Jewish Community?
Gilligan, Jewish Schools and the Discriminatory Treatment of the Muslim Minority
Corporal Punishment in Jewish School – No Major News Spread Like Muslim Schools
The issue of “unregistered schools”, at least the political and media spheres, has focussed largely on Muslims. More specifically, this has been peppered and spiced, particularly by Ofsted’s Michael Wilshaw with the rhetoric of pupil “vulnerability” to “extremism”. As I have previously catalogued, this accompanying rhetoric is nearly always focussed on the Muslim community and swift action is seen through various, thoroughly publicised communiques between Ofsted and the Department for Education. The issue of unregistered schools in the Haredi community, despite the religious group holding views clearly violating the PREVENT-based “British values”, is never coloured with the brush of possible terrorism. The same is also true of Christian “unregistered” set-ups.
The official state social engineering policy of muscular liberalism remains flexed when it comes to Muslims. But only for Muslims.
For all the talk about the need to “integrate” Muslims through the British values social engineering programme, linguistic imperialism, and the white knights rescuing Muslim women in the name of equality and freedom, the hypocrisy stemming from the upper echelons of government has been brazen. Whilst on this blog I have brought to attention the discriminatory nature of PREVENT, counter-terrorism, and the judiciary, the latent anti-Islam and anti-Muslim attitudes have become increasingly apparent and overt. An assimilationist, extreme interpretation of secular liberalism, whilst being forced upon Muslims and their beliefs, has been notable only by its absence at the state level. In an increasingly, rare, brilliant piece in the Guardian, Jospeh Harker summed it up aptly in his tactful play on the neocon economic policy of choice, “trickle-down hate”:
“Muslims seem a particular target of his divisive and alienating language… Cameron’s dog-whistles matter. They may appear to be mere words – jokes or slips of the tongue; but they set the parameters and the tone of the debate. We could call this trickle-down hate. So if he makes a bold statement about the niqab, or some other aspect of multicultural Britain, it will go to the top of the news agenda, even if it’s in actual fact insignificant or completely wrong – as in the so-called Trojan Horse scandal in Birmingham schools, which a parliamentary committee inquiry ruled to be groundless… Cameron speaks; his entourage pushes further; the media responds; and on the streets, the abuse and attacks kick off. Sadly, Cameron and the Tories seem to believe that the answer to a broken nation is to break it some more.”
How does one go about banning a minority (niqabis) within a minority (Muslim women) within a minority (Muslim) from public institutions without calling it a ban?
The following method to “ban without banning” has been deduced from Michael Wilshaw’s latest colonialist pronouncements intimidating education institutions into banning the veil, and past dictations from the fascist neoconservative elite bravely discriminatorily targeting veiled Muslim women.
“The colonialist administration invested great sums in this combat. After it had posited that the woman constituted the pivot of Algerian society, all efforts were made to obtain control over her.”
“This woman who sees without being seen frustrates the coloniser”
~ Frantz Fanon
“When you’re in a position of power for a long time you get used to using your yardstick, and you take it for granted that because you’ve forced your yardstick on others, that everyone is still using the same yardstick. So that your definition of extremism usually applies to everyone, but nowadays times are changing, and the center of power is changing. People in the past who weren’t in a position to have a yardstick or use a yardstick of their own are using their own yardstick now. You use one and they use another. In the past when the oppressor had one stick and the oppressed used that same stick, today the oppressed are sort of shaking the shackles and getting yardsticks of their own, so when they say extremism they don’t mean what you do, and when you say extremism you don’t mean what they do. There are entirely two different meanings.”
~ Malcolm X
Unable to tolerate cultural heterogeneity, the racist David Cameron followed up his Michael Gove-inspired Macaulayism with colonialist calumnies to yet again apply the full brachial force of “muscular liberalism” upon the Muslim woman, and more specifically, the even smaller minority in which resides the veiled Muslim woman. Bravo Mr Cameron! Your machismo impresses.
Cameron announced plans to allow public institutions to ban women from wearing veils in schools, courts and other British institutions. Whilst actually presenting nothing substantially new in terms of proposals, it did release a torrent of self-righteous fulminations and liberal rectitude, as a piece of fabric was attacked from the biodegradable “liberal” left to the nuke “Eye-ran” right in the comment sections of various spreads. Which is fantastic news for a minority that is already being physically and verbally attacked on the streets of Britain.
Following Cameron’s disgraceful demagoguery was Gove’s politically incestuous ideological mate Michael Wilshaw.
This is a continuation of a previous article which can be found here. David Cameron demanded that if people “walk our streets, learn our schools, benefit from our society, you sign up to our values. Freedom. Tolerance. Responsibility. Loyalty.” The question is, who indeed is Cameron and his neoconservative syndicate “loyal” to?
Some of the biggest backers of Cameron’s party are also linked to neoconservative/pro-Israeli lobbying and activism.
David Harding, for instance, who has donated £600,000 has spoken at the neoconservative Policy Exchange and has also financially contributed to fundraisers for ARK – the notorious charity backed by neocon Michael Gove, and linked to Michael Wilshaw. It has aggressively taken over schools in Muslim majority schools which Ofsted (headed by Wilshaw) placed into special measures in the aftermath of the Trojan Hoax lies.
An ideology is a set of beliefs held by individuals or a collective. Given the way in which the counter-extremism discourse, as propounded by the neoconservative elements of the government and its associated “think-tanks”, possesses underlying assumptions which have been comprehensively rejected the intellectual milieu (see here, here and here), one can reasonably conclude that neocons are dogmatically promoting counter-extremism as a subset of their ideology and imposing it on people.
Given the pervasion of neoconservatism, its proponents in government, and the veritable control of the broad-spread permeation of this counter-extremism ideology by them, it would also not be reasonable to state that in the context of counter-extremism, the government has become both authoritarian and totalitarian. It is authoritarian because those who dictate the policies on counter-extremism can be traced to a small, elite cabal of neoconservatives, and it is totalitarian because extremism policy has taken societally-driven surveillance and thought-policing to a whole new penetrative, fascistic level.
Over one Spy for Every Muslim
I have already drawn parallels between today’s PREVENT surveillance programme and East Germany’s Stasi. Professor Arun Kundnani, has shown how the FBI has one counterterrorism spy for every 94 Muslims in the U.S., which approaches Stasi’s ratio of one spy for every 66 citizens.
Journalist outside Al-Hijrah school last year in strange position
It is hard to believe that it has been a year since I last wrote about Al-Hijrah School and the incompetency and distortions exhibited by state propagandist Andrew Gilligan and the Birmingham City Council. Al-Hijrah school is one of the first Muslim schools that was dragged into the anti-Muslim vacuum that was the Trojan Hoax and resulted in disturbing consequences for the school – even though it was already a faith school. Al-Hijrah School – a school with an Islamic ethos – had its governing body and senior leadership team purged of Muslims and replaced with non-Muslims who allegedly later denigrated the Islamic ethos of the school.
The saga continues as the key theme around Al-Hijrah – the one-sided reporting by the biased press –
persists. Whilst bogus “Muslim wrongs” were splattered across the pages of Birmingham Mail and the Daily Telegraph, there has been utter silence on outrageous allegations made against the good white master folk who replaced the backward and uncivilised Muslims.
This duplicitous standard, however, will continue to be exposed.
Yet again we have another round of reports targeting in the majority, Muslim faith schools in Birmingham. A number of reports published in the BBC, Telegraph Guardian, Sky News, and Independent, regurgitated Michael Wilshaw’s letter to Nicky Morgan parading his team’s hard work in failing faith schools which were formerly inspected by the now defunct Bridge Schools Inspectorate (BSI).
The issue is, in order to come to a decent headline typically scapegoating Muslims, the inspectors tried a little too hard, it seems. So hard that in the case of one school, it is alleged Ofsted not only acted outside its remit during its inspection, but littered its report with inaccuracies and misleading statements, based off compromised trademark Inquisitional-style extremism-based questioning of young children.
Towards the beginning of this year, I covered the takeover of Golden Hillock School in Birmingham by ARK Schools, the Academy chain which had, in scandalous circumstances, taken over another Muslim-majority school subjected to spin and lies: Oldknow Academy. I also found ARK’s links to the “Christian influence” (undue influence?), how ARK has been a favoured chain by the notorious anti-Muslim neocon Michael Gove, whilst Ofsted’s head, Michael Wilshaw, not only headed the first ARK Academy school, but was an Education Director at ARK before becoming Chief Inspector.
Disconcertingly, the “old-boys network” of pro-Israel, hate-mongering neocons also extend their links into ARK. “Vanilla tax”-avoiding Stanley Fink, a major donor of the Tories, bigoted Henry Jackson Society’s Israeli-crime whitewashing project Just Journalism, became the chair of ARK in 2009.
Applying the presumptions about Muslims propagated by neocons (Muslims are untrustworthy due to Islam and their actions are to be seen as a form of sinister subversion) the Trojan Horse test set out for Muslims, there is one hell of plot here for Peter Clarke to investigate.