“Operation Trojan Horse”, a feared plot to drive Islamic cultural norms into Birmingham state schools, was discovered through an anonymous letter. The affair may initially appear to be a terrible idea for new film, based on a modern take of the Greek tragedy, but the reality appears much worse. Islamaphobia is a pressing and dangerous problem in Britain, and fuel has been added to the fire by these claims that initially appeared as an attempt by islamaphobists to breed hatred and discontent. Despite the fact the BBC labelled the letter as “widely accepted forgery” there remains new information from inspections in Birmingham schools that result in the affair not being completely black and white.
The truth remains unclear but opponents of the accusations are lamenting in the results that have argued to have found “fear and intimidation” being used by Islamist to gain entry onto school boards to launch a “narrow faith based ideology” teaching that white women are “white prostitutes”. The results from the inspection have have ranged from finding books promoting stoning to inviting a known hate preacher, infamous for his support of militant Islam, to speak to pupils. The results, if true, may be damning but the staunch inspection from Gove and Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of schools, has brewed hatred and mistrust in a Britain already on a teetering edge after the EU elections.
Labour criticised the inspection as “weak and inadequate” but the Conservatives faced themselves in a lose-lose situation when a fast and concerted response, with no substantial outcomes, would have lead to further accusations islamaphobia. The government is not only facing criticism from Labour and the embarrassment of the May-Gove fiasco but Baroness Warsi has also criticised Gove’s handling of the issue. She said in an interview last week that Gove should be careful not to “make matters worse” by isolating Muslim communities. This was just the tip of the iceberg and she then went on to criticise Gove for not having relevant life experience on the issue at hand.
Wilshaw said that a “promotion of a narrow set of values…is making children vulnerable to segregation and emotional dislocation from wider society”. Although these claims are true and faith communities- whilst retaining their beliefs and culture-should integrate into a wider community, the government’s plans of instigating solely “British values” is not the way forward. To play an old record; the government is out of touch with the population. Warsi is right to accuse Gove of having little life experience of the issues at hand and little experience growing up in a diverse community. “British values”, whatever they may be, do need to be retained but in a cultural mix that promotes tolerance, understanding and harmony.
The report is damning and frankly frightening but it breeds a sense of hatred and mistrust of Muslim communities in Britain, which is far from what this country needs to combat extremism. Birmingham schools, currently, appear to be an isolated case and too much media attention and focus on this case detracts from what is a relatively cohesive society. We are a diverse nation encompassing a wide variety of faiths and cultures. That is here to stay. Unless Britain embraces its various communities and diversity, hatred will see British society fall over its teetering edge.