The Muslim Council of Britain today called for an end to weeks of speculation that smears British Muslims involved in schools and the education system. It also raised concerns of the appointment of a former counter-terrorism official to look into this school governance matter.
For weeks now, British Muslims have borne the brunt of allegations that state schools are the target of a ‘Muslim takeover’, where supposedly conservative Muslim views and mores are imposed, and where non-compliant teachers are forced out.
These allegations have thus far been unfounded in any real, substantial evidence. Yet, this story has been given credence by the mainstream media without the chance for official inquiries to start their investigations.
The consequences of such idle chatter are very real. Hatred towards Muslims increase, and negative perceptions are re-enforced.
We articulate here and now that across our community, we do not recognise the actions made in these allegations. They represent sinister caricatures of Muslims that provide fodder for the far-right.
Having found these allegations to be far-fetched, we agree that these are serious allegations which must be appropriately investigated. It is important that the education of all our children is free of any undue influence and delivered in accordance with the agreed values and protocols of governance.
It is therefore critical that any investigations are seen to be impartial and not victimising a community. We agree with an unnamed Department of Education official who briefed the media yesterday thus: “It is absolutely vital these investigations are carried out impartially, without pre-judgment. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
And yet, a strong comment has been made by the appointment of former counter-terrorist chief Peter Clarke to head up this investigation. We agree with the view of the chief constable of West Midlands Police, Chris Sims, who considered the appointment of Peter Clarke to be “desperately unfortunate”.
Such an appointment only re-enforces such notions, and once again, our community is seen through the narrow prism of security and counter-terrorism.
As a British Muslim community, we have more to offer. Our schools are some of the best in the country. And Muslim parents who take the time to be school governors have a lot to offer for the lifeblood of our education system. The prevailing tone of coverage on this issue is not only blown out of proportion, but risks undoing the excellent progress made so far, and will hinder future progress.[ends]
Notes to Editors:
The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with over
500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques,
charities and schools.
For further information please contact:
The Muslim Council of Britain
PO Box 57330
Tel: 0845 26 26 786
Fax: 0207 247 7079