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Trojan Horse claims ‘absolutely false’, insists school governor at centre of Islamic extremism allegations

Trojan Horse claims ‘absolutely false’, insists school governor at centre of Islamic extremism allegations

🕔14.May 2014

The chairman of governors from a school at the centre of Birmingham’s Trojan Horse allegations has denied claims of Islamic extremism in classrooms and insisted there is no truth in claims that girls have been segregated from boys and forced to wear headscarves.

Tahir Alam said allegations of extremism at Park View Academy with assemblies praising al Qaida were false. There was no plot to turn Park View into a faith school by stealth.

Mr Alam told BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme that although he approved of strict Muslim principles it would be unlawful to impose such practices at a community school.

Birmingham City Council has received more than 200 letters and emails of complaint detailing alleged extremism at 25 schools, including three run by the Park View Trust. Ofsted will publish findings of emergency inspections at the schools early next month.

Leaked reports suggest the Park View schools will be placed under special measures and the governing body sacked. Mr Alam refused to speculate on Ofsted’s findings, even though a draft report has been sent to Park View.

Three formal inquiries into Trojan Horse are underway, including one by former Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism commander Peter Clarke.

Mr Alam said: “Park View is a community school. We don’t have any faith designation. We can’t proscribe any religious practices to any pupil.

“What we are doing is well within the regulations and the legal parameters.

“All these allegations are absolutely false. We don’t have a policy of segregating children in the classroom. None of the practices are to be found in our schools. We have people working in the school of different faiths and cultural backgrounds.”

He described the past three months as “surreal”.

He added: “We are shocked at so many false allegations by people coming forward without giving their names. People have been coming out of the past from 10 and 15 years ago making allegations.

“No child has to wear a head-scarf, no child has to go to prayer in a compulsory manner. Only ten to 15 per cent of our children pray in the lunchtime.

“No assemblies have been done which have praised al Qaida, nobody has called anybody kuffar in the assemblies, all these allegations have been made by anonymous individuals.

“It would be outrageous to practice any kind of extremism.

“The whole thing has grown out of all proportion based on an anonymous document undated and unsigned. How many other undated unsigned documents would generate a 12 week media storm?”

Birmingham Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood told the BBC that some of the schools in the Trojan Horse probe had changed their conduct because they were under scrutiny.

In 2007, Mr Alam helped write a guide book for the Muslim council of Britain setting out how schools should deal with Islamic sensitivities. Advice included covering girls except for their hands and faces, banning ‘harmful’ music, discouraging physical contact between girls and boys and avoiding swimming classes during Ramadan.

Asked about the book, Mr Alam said the contents had been misinterpreted by the media.

Mr Mahmood added: “They have basically realised that they are now being focused on and from that point of view they have quite significantly changed the attitudes and the way that they were teaching, the way that they were holding assemblies, the way that they were having different lessons, the way the children were being segregated in class.

“I have no objection to any of this, as long as this was open and transparent and this was a proper religious school applied for. These were state schools and these weren’t proper religious schools and turning that into a religious school is where the conflict became more and more difficult to manage.”

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