Responding to allegations of Islamic extremism in several British schools, Prime Minister David Cameron recently enacted special measures, including unplanned inspections, for six British schools. Creative Commons image by Moritz Hager

Responding to allegations of Islamic extremism in several British schools, Prime Minister David Cameron recently enacted special measures, including unplanned inspections, for six British schools. Creative Commons image by Moritz Hager

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) British Prime Minister David Cameron has authorized unannounced inspections dubbed “dawn raids” on schools in the English Midlands after education inspectors found that some were covering up evidence of Islamist infiltration.

Beginning Monday (June 9), Cameron took charge of the British government’s response to allegations that extremist Muslims have taken over several schools in Birmingham, England’s second-largest city after London.

Six schools accused of spreading Islamic extremism will be subject to special measures, including early morning inspections.

After a series of inspections by officials at the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, known as Ofsted, it was discovered that one unnamed school took advantage of a prior notice of inspection and hastily arranged special lessons for its students on Christianity.

Cameron told Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, to inspect suspect schools without advance notification, saying, “Protecting our children is one of the first duties of the government, and that is why the issue of alleged Islamist extremism in Birmingham schools demands a robust response.”

David Hughes, vice chair of Park View Educational Trust, which runs three of the schools at the center of a dispute now dominating the front pages of most British papers, radio and TV news bulletins, reacted angrily, saying none of the schools in his care would “tolerate or promote” extremism.

YS/MG END GRUNDY

9 Comments

  1. Am I the only one getting a hysterical panic vibe from this story?
    [I am thinking the 21st century answer to “Satanic Panic”]

    If these allegations that extremist Muslims have taken over several schools in Birmingham are actual serious things, you would think there would be more details given to the press about what it actually entails.

    The fact that the government is being rather vague and making threats of raids should give one pause. Maybe if there were clear examples of what they mean by “Islamist infiltration”.

    • The Great God Pan

      You are getting that vibe because RNS wants you to get that vibe.

      The story has been reported on in more detail by UK newspapers, from the right-wing Daily Mail to the liberal Guardian. Nobody is claiming that children are being raped or murdered, which is what the “Satanic Panic” was about. This is about things such as female students at non-faith schools being “discouraged” from talking to boys and from attending extracurricular activities.

      • The BBC is a bit skeptical
        http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-birmingham-27012861
        “The authenticity of the so-called “Operation Trojan Horse” letter has not been established”

        “…a governor at one of the schools implicated in the letter has repeatedly described the allegations as “a hoax”.”

        The part that seems a bit disturbing is Michael Gove’s talk of “teaching British Values”. When you are talking about schools primarily comprised of immigrants this can be a little disconcerting.

  2. Yes, without details, it’s hard to know what they mean. I’m completely opposed to Islamic indoctrination in public schools.

    I also wonder how schools in the US South would fare if subjected to “Dawn Raids” looking for unconstitutional religious content – espeically if the exact same standards are applied to the Islamic material in the UK and the Christian material in the US South? I hope anyone cheering this has the integrity to oppose Christian indoctrination in public schools as well.

    • Its like saying I am against child abuse and animal cruelty.

      Over-generalized used of the terms without details could be anything from infanticide and murdering puppies to dressing up children and pets in embarrassing clothing for family pictures.

      The fewer details we know on this story, the less legitimate the government efforts appear.

      ” I hope anyone cheering this has the integrity to oppose Christian indoctrination in public schools as well.”

      Good luck with that.

      The people most likely to be banging the panicky drum of “anti-Islamic indoctrination” will be Christian fundamentalists. The issue is not with indoctrinating children, its the choice of religion being employed. The only real difference between Christian and Islamic fundamentalists is the level of political power, they possess.

    • They still have an “established religion”. It tends to skew behavior which would be utterly insane in the US.

      There is a tension between “British values” and respecting the culture of immigrants. With neither a decent history of immigration nor of government secularism, moderation tends to get lost in the mix.

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