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‘Trojan horse’: Radical group ‘aims to convert’ UK schools to strict Islam

Published time: March 08, 2014 18:23
Edited time: June 27, 2014 08:39
Reuters / Luke MacGregor

Reuters / Luke MacGregor

Birmingham City Council is investigating allegations that a group of radical Muslims is trying to oust head teachers and secretly turn schools into Muslim academies based on Salafi Islam principles, British media reported.

A letter passed to Birmingham City Council outlines a plan dubbed ‘Operation Trojan Horse,’ aimed at taking over at least four schools in areas of the city with large Muslim populations

In the plan, hardline parents were to rebel against head teachers; they would claim the schools were corrupting their children “with sex education, teaching them about homosexuals, making their children pray Christian prayers and mixed swimming and sports,” the Guardian reported.

Salafi Islam is a branch of Sunni Islam, which is regarded as more devout and pure. Salafis strictly adhere to religious traditions of the seventh century rather than 21st century realities. It has also been linked to some terrorist groups around the world, though few Salafi scholars appear to support extremism or acts of violence.

Allegedly written from one Islamic fundamentalist to another, the letter says the operation is part of a long-term plan and that a number of schools in Birmingham have already been “taken over” in this way.

“Whilst sometimes the practices we use may not seem the correct way to do things you must remember that this is say jihad and as such using all measures possible to win the war is acceptable,” the letter is quoted as stating.

However, Tahir Alam – a former chairman of the education committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, who is accused of being one of the plotters – told the Guardian that the letter was “a malicious fabrication and completely untrue.”

The police also said that it was not a matter for them and decided not to open an investigation.

“The assessment is that the allegations in the letter were for further investigation by Birmingham city council and [the] Department for Education and were not a matter for the police,” said Superintendent Sue Southern, head of West Midlands' prevent and protect counter-terrorism unit.

But Jawed Iqbal, the chair of governors at Adderly Primary – apparently one of the schools on the list which had been “taken over” – said Friday that he had reported the matter to the West Midlands police who confirmed that they were investigating the incident, although this investigation is believed to be connected to allegations of fraud.

The MP for Birmingham, Selly Oak Steve Mccabe, told the Independent that this is not the first time this has happened and that the only difference was that the letter suggests a concerted organization and strategy.

“I know heads that have been suspended or driven out because of the enormous pressure they are put under by certain groups or cliques trying to usurp them,” he said.

A spokesman for the Department of Education confirmed that investigations were taking place and said that action would be taken if necessary.

Inayat Bunglawala – chair of Muslims4UK, a group which aims to promote Muslim engagement in British society – said the letter appeared to be from a tiny group of radicals who do not represent the vast majority of Muslims in the UK.

“On the face of it this would appear to be part of a radical agenda by a tiny yet highly committed group of activists to impose their very conservative and bleak vision of Islamic teachings in our schools by fomenting division and distrust against the existing school leadership,” he said.