Report due on ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations of Birmingham school extremism

One of the Birmingham schools linked with a potential operation by Muslim fundamentalists to “take over” state schools has insisted there is “no extremism, of any kind” at the institution.

Tahir Alam, chairman of governors at Park View academy, stated that there was no segregation of boys and girls or assemblies supporting Al-Qaeda. 

He added that the school had an intake that was 99% Muslim, but that it had to cater for children of all faiths and backgrounds. Additionally, the school's policies on areas such as collective prayer, headscarves and halal meat were “within the legal parameters”. 

Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “No assemblies have been done which have praised Al-Qaeda, nobody has called anybody ‘kuffar’ in the assemblies; all these allegations have been made…by anonymous individuals.” 

Alam, director of the Park View Educational Trust, which runs three schools, added: “There is no extremism being tolerated or promoted in any of our schools.” 

However, a leaked document, purportedly a letter from one Muslim extremist to another, said there was a ‘Trojan Horse’ operation by fundamentalists to “take over” state schools in the city of Birmingham, undermine the headteachers and ensure they were “run on Islamic principles”. 

Khalid Mahmood, MP for Perry Barr, said schools had changed their practices because of so much scrutiny. And he added that the conflict had arisen because there had been efforts to turn a non-faith school into a “religious school”. 

But Alam said: “We're shocked by so many false allegations.” 

The Department for Education has commissioned an investigation headed by former counter-terror chief, Peter Clarke, to investigate the Trojan Horse allegations. 

And Birmingham City Council has set up a Review Group with a view to publishing a report (in July 2014) that, insofar as is possible, explains the authenticity or otherwise of the Trojan Horse allegations and makes recommendations to the city council and any other relevant bodies to ensure effective future governance and safeguarding arrangements in all schools. 

Stephen Rimmer, chair of the Review Group, said: “The Group is absolutely determined to get to the bottom of these allegations being investigated by Ian Kershaw, and to ensure as much alignment as possible with Peter Clarke’s review which reports to the Secretary of State for Education. 

“The Group will not provide any ‘running commentary’ on its discussions – individually or collectively – as this would not assist clarity or confidence amongst communities in Birmingham. It will deliver a clear and authoritative public report in July with recommendations aimed at ensuring no Birmingham school child suffers as a result of this damaging period of uncertainty.” 

(Image: c. Joe Giddens) 

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