A Surrey reader sent a statement by the Muslim Council of Britain, whose members include over 500 organisations, mosques, charities and schools. MCB is a broad-based organisation with both Sunni and Shia traditions represented and has always spoken out consistently and loudly against extremism and sectarianism, advocating positive integration of all communities. A summary follows.

The Muslim Council of Britain responds to Peter Clarke’s report on the “Trojan Horse” letter: 23rd July press release

The Muslim of Council of Britain welcomes the Education Secretary Nicola Morgan’s assurance that the government supports ‘the right of Muslim parents to be involved in their children’s schools and their commitment to take leading roles in public life.’ The Education Secretary was responding to the latest report issued by Peter Clarke, who was asked to investigate Birmingham schools following the so-called “Trojan Horse” letter.

“The Muslim Council of Britain unequivocally condemns all terrorism and extremism and we have not seen any evidence to date of such activities in Birmingham schools”.

Other points made:

  • The document proved to be a fake, but accusations of an extremist plot still persists.
  • Mr Clarke says in his report that “I have seen no evidence to suggest that there is a problem with governance generally” (10.1).
  • However, there are issues of poor governance as outlined in this and previous reports by OFSTED, and last week, by Ian Kershaw who was commissioned by Birmingham City Council.
  • The evidence of social media conversations exhibiting inappropriate behaviour are indeed very disturbing and may constitute grounds for disciplinary, procedural and legal action.
  • We call for stronger guidance from OFSTED to ensure parents can continue to be encouraged to be strong members of the governing council, empowered to be effective in those roles.
  • As we have stated time and again, the causes of terrorism are complex, but there is scant evidence that the education system or the Muslim community are the reasons why people turn to terrorism.

Contrary to fundamental requirement of fairness, Mr Clarke has not invited the MCB to explain its position. This is a serious failure on the part of Mr Clarke’s investigation, particularly considering the questions raised about his appointment for this task. The MCB continues:

“We take issue with Mr Clarke’s approach that chooses to ascribe guilt by association, and by conflating conservative Muslim practices to a supposed ideology and agenda to ‘Islamise’ secular schools. Without ever approaching the Muslim Council of Britain during his investigation, Mr Clarke nevertheless chooses to describe the MCB as part of a movement that aims to ‘to increase the role of Islam in education’ and ‘Islamise’ the provision of educational services.

”We agree with point 187 of Ian Kershaw’s report which states that the MCB guidance offers practical guidelines and should not be interpreted as a prescriptive code. And while schools are encouraged to accommodate Muslim parents, they should be read alongside statutory government guidance and toolkits, for example the DfE Guidance on the Equality Act 2010 and the “Public Sector Equality Duty Guidance for Schools” published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.”

Empowering and Achieving

”The primary responsibility of schools is to prepare children for life, assisting them to acquire skills and help them to be successful citizens and professionals. Educational attainment built on academic rigour and critical thinking is at the heart of that task.

”The schools investigated as part of the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ affair had made great strides over the years with some moving from single figure pass rates to some of the best results across the country. The government needs to appreciate that this was possible due to determination and commitment of parents, pupils, teachers and governors.

“Unfounded and malicious allegations threaten the life chances of a generation of our young people, the onus is clearly on OFSTED and Department for Education to monitor the progress of academies and not be side-tracked by culture wars initiated by divisive commentators”.

The full statement may be seen here: http://www.mcb.org.uk/the-muslim-council-of-britain-responds-to-peter-clarkes-trojan-horse-letter-report/