Salma Yacoob: There is more than a whiff of McCarthyism in the air . . . Shabana Mahmood: “This is a deeply provocative move by the education secretary, which is hugely disappointing.

Anne sent a link to an Anglican vicar’s response to the Trojan Horse nonsense. Most of his post is published here for others who missed it.

National government and, through its incompetence and inaction, local government have wilfully allowed legitimate inquiry into the running of state schools in Birmingham, to become a full-blown attack on some of the most impoverished areas of our nation. These are areas where Anjem Choudary has been chased off by other Muslims, in which the voices of faith speak tolerance and acceptance . . .

His credentials:

fr oliver cossI serve as Vice-Chair of Governors at Regents Park School in Birmingham, a school named in the press as being among those ‘infiltrated’. I categorically refute those allegations, and have demonstrated their emptiness to HM Inspectors for Schools. Once allegations have been made, the complainants expect and the schools have a responsibility, to see that those claims are answered and investigated to the point of reasonable doubt. To those processes I submit myself gladly and openly – I have nothing to hide, and nothing about which to be ashamed.

State Schools follow the policies and procedures that are modelled for them by the Local Authority: until recently, this included nothing on PREVENT, and included an RE strategy and syllabus which is now condemned as Islamicising. Only a few years ago, it was trumpeted as a means by which stronger communities might be built. This unbelievable over-reaction risks sending Muslims into the darkness, because they fear being branded ‘Islamists’ simply for being who they are.

So, Mr Gove, if you’re gunning for Local Government, please leave schools alone – they are not your target, and you’ll only end up hurting children and hard-working teachers the most.

And Sir Albert, if you’re gunning for academies and for National Government, remember that you too risk hurting the education of our children and young people, and you’re forgetting the maintained schools that look to you as a maintaining authority, and whom that authority is woefully failing at the moment.

I and my fellow Christians will be spending much of our Holy Week, in preparation for Easter, reassuring our Islamic neighbours that white people and Christians really don’t hate them, as they are coming to believe from all these events.

And for those folk who have no idea what life in Small Heath, or Washwood Heath and Saltley, or Sparkhill, or Sparkbrook really consists of, I suggest you come and see – because these are great neighbourhoods, and I really don’t appreciate them being vilified just because you haven’t crossed the road, and taken the opportunity to build meaningful friendships with those whose culture and religion is different from yours.

Read the full text here: