Trojan horse and the unbearable silliness of the denialists

Denial and deflection over extremism is a disservice to Muslim communities.

Denial and deflection over extremism is a disservice to Muslim communities

One of the most frustrating and depressing aspects of following extremism-related stories in the UK is the predictable frequency with which the denialist brigade rush to the fore to hush things up.

Whilst the twin towers in New York were still smouldering, we had this brigade trying to convince us it was an inside job. The day after 7/7 the same suspects were out in force claiming it was a MI5/MI5/CIA/Mossad operation, they can never quite decide which agency was involved but they are sure it was one of them.

It, therefore, should come as no great surprise that in the wake of numerous inquiries into the Birmingham Trojan Horse affair the denialists are back to their old tricks.

It must be stressed that both the Ofsted and Peter Clarke inquiry found that there was a concerted attempt to impose an extremist Islamist agenda on Birmingham state schools by a group of men linked with Islamist organisations.

The reports found:

–          Anti-Christian chanting in assemblies

–          Gender segregation in classrooms

–          Extremist speakers being invited into schools without being vetted

–          The promotion of homophobia, sexism and anti-Semitism amongst the teachers and governors involved in the plot

–          Bullying of non-Muslim and liberal Muslim staff

The reports are very clear about what was found and are available to read here and here. Following on from their publication, the Guardian decided to post a mind-blowingly inaccurate piece by former-Respect leader, Salma Yacoob, that made the following claim:

“The residents of Birmingham ought to be able to sleep more easily tonight. Peter Clarke’s 129-page report into the city’s schools found no evidence of plots to indoctrinate, groom or recruit school pupils to an agenda of radicalisation, violent extremism or terrorism. This is also the key finding of the reports commissioned by Birmingham city council and Ofsted.”

Clearly teaching children to hate non-Muslim, women, gays, Jews and the West in general is not extremist or a sign of radicalisation in her view. Salma is not unintelligent or unable to read which implies she is deliberately seeking to mislead the public about the true nature of what has been happening in Birmingham. She is not alone.

Salma is pipped to the ‘Britain’s most dishonest Muslim spokesperson’ spot by Myriam Francois-Cerrah. After pointing to some of the findings in the reports, Francois-Cerrah writes:

“But what the problem is not, is an issue of radicalisation. Rather, attempts to link the problems to radicalisation reflect an expansion of the counter-terrorism agenda to the policing of socially conservative views among some Muslims and the effects of this policy are likely to be disastrous.”

Converts like Myriam appear keen to absolve Muslims of all responsibility and remind non-Muslims that it is their ignorance that causes stagnation and extremism in Muslim communities.

Interestingly, both Salma and Myriam began their commentary on Trojan Horse affair when it was first covered by the press earlier this year, by claiming there were no problems at all and the plot was a figment of Michael Gove’s imagination. So I guess we have some progress.

Not to be outdone by the Salma and Myriam, the Muslim Council of Britain then entered the fray and reminded us all of just why they have become so irrelevant in recent years with this gem of wisdom:

“…we do take issue with Mr Clarke’s approach that chooses to ascribe guilt by association, and by conflating conservative Muslim practises to a supposed ideology and agenda to ‘Islamise’ secular schools.”

Oh dear.

What Salma, Myriam and the MCB need to understand is that you can’t pull the wool over people’s eyes on every single occasion. Denial and deflection over extremism is not a public service, it is a disservice to Muslim communities and it strengthens the hand of extremists. It also gives fodder to the far-right who use the denials of such spokespersons to push divisive narratives.

Extremism is clearly a problem in British Muslim communities and readers of this blog don’t need any further proof of that assertion. This problem can only be solved if it is exposed, discussed openly and challenged.

It will continue to fester if it is denied, defended and covered up. No matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable certain truths may be they still need to be faced.

Muslim spokespersons, like the ones mentioned in this post, need to move on from their tribal mind-set and stop construing all discussions about extremism as an attack on all Muslims. There is no ‘us vs. them’. We need to work together as a society, not get defensive and attack anyone who seeks to challenge real problems in communities. Please!

Amjad Khan is a Muslim writer and commentator

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41 Responses to “Trojan horse and the unbearable silliness of the denialists”

  1. Liam Fairley

    Superb article!! Applauding until my hands go red!

  2. Mark

    I agree with every word, but I’d add the media as being culpable. On the direct assertion (as one only example) of girls sitting at the back of the class, the media discussed the generic term “gender segregation.” This allowed the likes of Francois-Cerrah to go off at all sorts of tangents about Eton, Cheltenham Ladies’ College and single-sex schools. These were non-comparisons to the direct allegation, yet she was allowed to produce a video where she spouted all this for (I think) Sunday or Daily Politics on the BBC. The interviewers nodded sagely, and might have prodded a tiny bit, but then allowed the “What about what Christian faith schools do?” which is another subject entirely and forgot the point that these schools were state, secular schools.

    Another “mistake” to a point, was the appointment of Peter Clarke because of his background in terrorism. This was leapt upon by both Yaqoob and Francoise-Cerrah (and some others) and they didn’t let go, and are still using it to almost defend the schools, in that no evidence of terrorism training was found. It wasn’t looked for by the way.
    They kept banging on about how the word “extreme” means terrorism, forgetting the fact that religious extremists can be detrimental in their practices to those who don’t lend themselves to that type of the religion. I sincerely hope both wouldn’t have agreed with their own education being disrupted by a girl’s sports day being cancelled simply because the organisers couldn’t guarantee that a male instructor wouldn’t be present. Or maybe they would accept that. But that is extreme in religion.
    As far as being a few of the regular “Muslim commentators” go, they have done themselves no favours at all with the deflection and denial. It’s time for the media to look down the range of people, away from orthodox conservative, towards secular/liberal, to get their views on TV/Radio, and not these people who give the impression that all Muslims are like that, which is not a good thing at all.

  3. Liam Fairley

    Huge round of applause for you, too!

  4. Mark

    Ooh ta

  5. swatnan

    Salma and indeed Chowdary have made quite a career out of being so called .community leaders’. You could ask which community. Because there is no one muslim comnunity but several dozem and I am sure they dislike each othder as much as say the Christian denominations do, or at least have the same suspicion of as. I’m sure that the Nigerian Muslim look down their noses at the recently arrived Somalian Muslim, and coment ‘we never had this kind of problem before, in my time’, with some justification. Salma is not a moderate but in the past has been a spokesperson for muslims. The worst kind though are the recently converts, who are more muslim than those born muslim. They are the real trouble makers. And George Galloway.

  6. Dave Roberts

    Yes Mark, a good response and the apologists for Islamist terrorism are becoming more and more isolated. Just about the only people who are prepared to ignore the evidence are the likes of the loony left, Yaqoob and useful idiots like Giles Fraser. Even The Guardian is reduced to saying that it all did happen but there was no conspiracy. So that’s all right then.

    What we are left with is a smaller and smaller rump of people who hate their own country so much they will defend any tyrant and tyranny that attacks it. In the ten years since the massive, and they were that, anti war marches the movements they spawned have collapsed as has the far left.

    The total opportunism of the left in the shape of the SWP saw the ditching of gay and women’s rights to enter into an alliance with some of the obscurantist and reactionary elements in the Muslim community in this country. The Respect fiasco which collapsed when local Bangladeshi and Kashmiri communal politicians no longer needed it has left the loonies floundering. They still cannot work out what happened. One moment they were on the brink of a new mass party to the left of Labour and then, nothing.

    The flagship of the apologists, The Guardian, is floundering. It has been forced to retract virtually everything it said about Birmingham without a word of explanation. Seamus Milne is looking increasingly the idiot he is yearning for the positive aspects of the Soviet Union and finding imperialist conspiracies everywhere.

    Does anyone know what the true attendance figures for Marxism 2014 were? There was a shot of hundreds at the opening but it was taken by Guy Smallman who is famous for trick photography. They claim over four thousand passed through over two days.

  7. Leon Wolfeson

    Indeed. I’m Jewish, and the only time I’ve had problems with a Muslim housemate was a British-born convert.

    (I have a very nice, friendly, nominally Muslim, Iranian housemate right now)

    To be fair, this is also true of most converts – born-again Christians can be a real PITA.

    (And don’t ignore the SWP idiots either…giving a bad name to the left by being such raging idiots. Gah)

  8. Dave Roberts

    Leon, it depends what you mean by the left. To m lifelong Labour voting parents, and grandparents it was the NHS, not having to worry about not having enough money to call the doctor, free school meals and legal aid in disputes with landlords.

    To the left now it’s disputes about what Trotsky said to Lenin about how many kulaks should be killed.

  9. Leon Wolfeson

    …Er…that sounds like a discussion of *Socialism*, not the left.

    Don’t fall for Torygraph propaganda.

  10. Leon Wolfeson

    The SWP is hated by much of the left, for good reason. Stop stereotyping on that, thanks!

  11. Dave Roberts

    You’ve lost me already, can you explain?

  12. Dave Roberts

    Stereotyping on what? Explanations?

  13. Leon Wolfeson

    No, I don’t think I can really simplify further. It’s quite basic English.

  14. Tokyo Nambu

    Yaqoob herself went to a selective school which is the polar opposite of the schools she’s now so enthusiastically promoting, and more damningly at least one of her sons is at the most selective school in Birmingham (KECH). Given the resources required for most children to pass the exam with a high enough mark for KECH, she’s effectively playing the Diane Abbot card: enthusiastically promoting schools that she wouldn’t touch for her own children, one of the key differences being parental advantage.

  15. Liam Fairley

    Don’t expect an explanation from him; very few of his posts make any sense and when asked for an explanation he offers only petty insults.

  16. Dave Roberts

    Your’e getting more and more obscure. Let’s try the difference between ” socialism” and the left. Could you explain?

  17. Dave Roberts

    Careful Tokyo, Leon will accuse you of racial obscurantism or something similar! Obviously everyone knew all this about Abbott but It’s news to me about Yaqoob. Where did she spring from in the first place?

  18. Dave Roberts

    Liam. Yes I’ve begun to notice that. Apart from he a good discussion.

  19. sarntcrip

    given that it all blew up on the basis of an unsigned anonymous note I REMAIN SCEPTICLESECULAY MUSLIM, CHRISTIAN HINDU BUDDHIST BLACK WHITE YELLOW ORANGE, NOBODY IS PERFECT WHETHER OR NOT ThE STORIES ARE 100% TRUEplaying into the hands of racsts with the tone of reporting is no a good idea

  20. Leon Wolfeson

    Given that conflating them is a right-wing trick in the first place…no.

    I am being very clear, you’re trying to muddy the waters because of your agenda.

  21. Leon Wolfeson

    So you’re joining your anti-British buddy there. Well, your colours fly, as you fight against the left.

  22. Leon Wolfeson

    No, you came here to attack the left, you’re not discussing anything.

    Any attempts at discussion have been met with “Explain this statement” repeated over and over….your agenda is plain.

  23. Leon Wolfeson

    No, I won’t follow your tactics, but thanks for slinging abuse.

  24. Leon Wolfeson

    Will you edit this to reflect your actual views, as expressed elsewhere in this thread?

  25. RationalFearOfTerror

    Cultural Wars

    How do they play out:
    1. Unambiguous attacks attacks directly upon your walls – China in the South China Sea, Russia in Georgia and the Ukraine.

    2. Ambiguous (only to those being attacked due to culturally derived constructs of Freedom of Religion and multiculturalism) attacks within your walls enabled by completely corrupt and/or inept cultural gatekeepers.

    China’s economic manipulation and Confucius Institutes, Britains Birmingham Islamic Trojan horse, Byzantine Empire with the Christians destruction of the Greek Culture along with Greek education destroyed with education aligning to Christian theocratic constructs.

    It is a state where at a point of time five to ten years from now you accept an ethical construct and resultant cultural behavioral variance within your public space, even including increased terror and threat thereof, which you would now consider completely counter to your ethics and meaning of Liberty Equality and Fraternity.

    In fact the political elite all along the way will determine it a good and the terror and movement of ethical mean not an aspect of the attacking culture at all, as the attacking culture now have sufficient control of the political elite agenda either through numerical power or psychological manipulation of the attacked cultures own belief system – As was perpetrated in Birmingham Britain where Islamist utilised non-existent Islamophobia (non-existent as rational fear is not a phobia – as Birmingham just by itself proves) derived from the in situ cultures beliefs regards freedom of religion and multiculturalism to enforce and grow their counter ethical constructs and behaviors within the Public Square.

    Ever heard of a cultural strategic inflection point – this is one. The following is a facet of how a culture destroys itself. It is not a new story in fact it is often repeated.

    3. Or a combination of both which China is playing quite deftly.

    There appears to be a very dangerous notion underlying Western policy making that because cultural wars are destructive they therefore rationally must give way in time to Western derived reasons for not having such terrible conflicts because it is all so obvious.

    Obvious to Western Culture maybe but if the other cultures fail to play the game as they have failed throughout history both religious and secular your culture is in a very dangerous situation.

    Wishful thinking is not a good policy option. Cultures based upon ideology religious, secular or a combination of both are not benign never have been never will be.

    Please note cultural wars never end as long as the underlying cultural foundation codex (textual and exemplar (messianic) template) construct of Other of either one or the other or both sides does not change to defuse any possibility of future conflict. Otherwise there is only ever a lull in proceedings.

  26. Liam Fairley

    Maybe, maybe not. My choice 🙂

  27. Dave Roberts

    Yeah, right! What does it all mean man?

  28. Dave Roberts

    In English please.

  29. Dave Roberts

    I am of the left, just not the loony variety.

  30. Dave Roberts

    ” So you’re backbiting against the people with your buddy there” Explain please.

  31. Leon Wolfeson

    …English. A foreign language for you, it seems.

  32. Leon Wolfeson

    I did, your poor comprehension is not my problem.

  33. Leon Wolfeson

    You talked about “anti-white”. The furthest extent “left” of that is…the BNP. i.e. Far right.

    You are a liar, plain and simple.

  34. Leon Wolfeson

    Well, I’ll bear your lying here it in mind in the future. As you say, your choice, Labourite.

  35. Shamsur Rehman Khattak

    Amjad Khan, obviously you are not one for passing over an
    opportunity to lay in the boot. I beg to differ with you that both the Ofsted
    and Peter Clarke’s inquiry found that there was a concerted attempt to impose
    an extremist Islamist agenda on Birmingham state schools by a small number of
    individuals linked with Islamist organisations. You obviously have overlooked
    that the key findings of all the reports commissioned found no evidence of plots
    to indoctrinate, groom or recruit school pupils to an agenda of radicalisation,
    violent extremism or terrorism. In fact if there was a concerted attempt as you contend, then that would constitute an inchoate offence at the very least if not a charge of conspiracy but no charges have been brought against any individual to date because there was no concerted attempt. What happened in these schools was poor governance and oversight which could have been addressed through current legislation without the media sensationalism and certainly without bringing to heel these schools and in the process humiliating the Muslim community to dog whistle to UKIP bigotry and overhaul a failing education policy. The sad fact is that the children of these schools will be forever viewed through the prism of extremism. They have been let down by the system, the media, their community and by misguided commentators. Shame on us all!!

  36. RationalFearOfTerror

    Having reviewed your comments I think you are somewhat optimistic ‘the loony’ Left in my my view have got social policy direction by the throat. The problem we face is the same as Lincoln and abolitionists regards slavery. Facts really are not the problem political organisation which groups the disparate entities individuals and groups against genocide and misogynistic is whilst preventing the inherent extremism in some from derailing general acceptance.

    What does it all mean? If I knew that we would not be communicating.

  37. Terry Collmann

    “What happened in these schools was poor governance and oversight” – no, “a concerted attempt to impose an extremist Islamist agenda on Birmingham state schools by a small number of individuals linked with Islamist organisations” is what it is. It may have been assisted by poor governance and oversight, but that’s almost irrelevant. And the point about the Islamist agenda is precisely that it DOES groom, deliberately or otherwise, for radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism. here needed to be a great deal of screaming and jumping up and down, to alert the countyry to what was happening, and to try to ensure it never happens again. Sweeping it under the carpet, as you apparently would have liked to see happen, would have been the worst possible response.

  38. Shamsur Rehman Khattak

    If it was a concerted attempt, then why have the per traitors not been arrested for extremist related offences? Perhaps the real reason is that the original beast of extremism propounded in the Trojan horse letter failed to materialise after all and what was found in the various reports commissioned was religious conservatism or just plain religiosity. There is a stark difference between terrorist extremism and religiosity. Most Muslims deplore the former and have faith in the robustness of the existing terror legislation to combat and eradicate the evils in their midst. Before anyone jumps on the bandwagon of a conveyor of belt of Muslim piety to terrorism, there is no evidence that religiosity leads to terrorism. In fact the true teachings of Islam condemn the taking of an innocent life full stop!. That obviously does mean that a very minority have turned the teaching of Islam on its head and distorted it to meet their personal agendas of power and politics. That is unfortunate but not rare. Lest not forget that Cultural relativism — the belief that up to a point individuals and communities are entitled to a measure of leeway for beliefs and practices wrong underpins a healthy democracy. It is what our forefathers made the ultimate sacrifices for. But For the truth may be that all that has been happening in parts in Birmingham where British Muslims form the great majority, and where teachers and pupils are mostly from the same community, is that state schools have absorbed the cultural flavour of the locality they serve.

  39. Liam Fairley

    I literally, genuinely do not understand where you’re coming from, what you’re getting at, and why you’re saying it. You’re as mad as a box of frogs!

  40. Leon Wolfeson

    Yes, of course you can’t understand (or rather, refuse to understand) a moderate left winger’s views.

    Then you sling the far right, social darwinist and totalitarian view that differing from your views is mental illness. You’re a good Labourite.

  41. Guest

    LMAO. Magical loony left.

    When in fact there is not a UK-wide left-wing party at all!

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