Tahir Alam, chair of governors at the school, insisted that the controversy over this was a manifestation of “Islamophobia”: “I believe it is a witch hunt based on all sorts of false allegations which have been repeated over many weeks. I also believe it is motivated by anti-Muslim, anti-Islam sentiment that is also sort of feeding this frenzy.” Horror of horrors — “Islamophobia” in Supine Britannia? Call Nick Lowles! Call Fiyaz Mughal! Call Theresa May! Tahir Alam must be put in charge — he must be made Education Secretary immediately! Anything less would be harmful to the public good and community cohesion!
“Children at secondary school ‘infiltrated by Muslim extremists’ listened to assembly praising Al-Qaeda leader, say teachers,” by John Hall for the Daily Mail, April 3:
A secondary school in Birmingham has been accused of praising senior Al-Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki during assemblies.
Two members of staff at Park View Academy claimed a senior colleague had endorsed the teachings of the now dead American-born leader of Al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula, and that a viewpoint politically sympathetic to the terrorist group had been promoted in an assembly.
The Department of Education confirmed that several schools in the area – thought to include Park View – are under investigation amid claims hard-line Muslims are trying to indoctrinate pupils.
Park View Academy denies the allegations, which were made by anonymous members of staff who were speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme
The two anonymous members of Park View staff reportedly insisted there was truth in the allegations that hardline Muslims had infiltrated the school.
They added that non-Muslim members of staff were being isolated, male and female pupils were being segregated, and that nepotism was apparent in the hiring of new recruits.
Allegations of radical Islamist infiltration of several schools in Birmingham, apparently including Park View, first came to light last month when a letter referring to a ‘Trojan Horse’ plot was sent to the local council, then leaked to the media.
The source and authenticity of the letter remains unclear, but it has led to the Department of Education investigating financial records and interviewing staff members at ‘more than 12 schools’ in the area.
Education Secretary Michael Gove is believed to have taken a personal interest in the investigation, which includes both faith schools and secular establishments.
Claims that Park View Academy employed members of staff sympathetic to Al-Qaeda were raised during the first visit by a journalist to the school since the ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations were made.
During an interview Tahir Alam, chair of governors at the school, insisted on accompanying reporter Sima Kotecha at all times, and restricted her access to other members of staff.
Speaking of the leaked letter and addressing claims he is the ‘ringleader’ of the hardline Muslim takeover of the school, Mr Alam said: ‘You can go round the school, you can have a look at the school, and you will find there is no evidence for these things whatsoever.
‘So whatever practices that the school is observing, they are actually voluntary. None of them are prescribed – they are purely optional,’ he added.
Mr Alam – who has been a governor at Park View for 17 years and was also a pupil at the school, went on to say: ‘I believe it is a witch hunt based on all sorts of false allegations which have been repeated over many weeks.
‘I also believe it is motivated by anti-Muslim, anti-Islam sentiment that is also sort of feeding this frenzy,’ he added.
The Islamic call to prayer is said to be played in corridors at the self-described ‘multi-faith school’, which is predominantly staffed by Muslims of Pakistani parentage.
The majority of governers at the school are said to be followers of the Wahhabi movement – an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam, according to Birmingham’s Labour MP Khalid Mahmood.
Mr Mahmood, who chairs the Tackling Terrorism All-Party Parliamentary Group and has long been a vocal critic of Park View Academy, said: ‘The majority of kids are Sunni mainstream Muslims. It is an attempt at indoctrination.
‘These are state schools, not Islamic. I am very concerned at the way non-Muslim staff have been dealt with and the effect on the children,’ he added.
He suggested that education officials had previously steered clear of getting involved in disputes with Muslim schools for fear of being dubbed racist.
‘Council officers were in a difficult position where they either went along with it or were portrayed as anti-Islamic,’ Mr Mahmood said.