An investigation into the ‘Trojan horse’ allegations in Birmingham, England schools has turned up evidence that there are a number of people connected with the schools who “espouse, endorse or fail to challenge extremist views.”
An investigation carried out by independent adviser Ian Kershaw for the Birmingham City Council found that the activities were only a concern in a few schools and did impose “a hardline, politicized strain of Sunni Islam” on the children.
According to Kershaw, there was a “determined effort to change schools, often by unacceptable practices, in order to influence educational and religious provision for the students served.” However, these practices were put in place by a “genuine and understandable desire” to improve standards for the ethnic group of children attending the schools.
While there was “no evidence of a conspiracy to promote an anti-British agenda, violent extremism or radicalization of schools in east Birmingham”, he did discover that “men of Pakistani heritage” had “moved between schools as they tried to spread their agenda through the unacceptable bullying and harassment of head teachers.”
Kershaw determined that the five steps reported in the Trojan horse allegations were in fact present in “a large number of the schools considered as part of the investigation.” These steps included targeting poorly performing Muslim schools, having parents turn against the schools, placing governors within the schools who held Islamic ideals, firing key staff members, and to “instigate a campaign of pressure”.
The schools that were found to have these five steps present were quickly labeled “inadequate”, writes Helen Pidd for The Guardian.
However, the investigation carried out by Peter Clarke, serving as the head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit, did not report finding any evidence of terrorism or “violent extremism” actually in the Birmingham schools. Although he did say:
“I found clear evidence that there are a number of people, associated with each other and in positions of influence in schools and governing bodies, who espouse, sympathise with or fail to challenge extremist views.”
According to the inquiry performed by Clarke, individuals in an effort to introduce an Islamic ethos into the schools carried out “coordinated, deliberate and sustained action”. This was accomplished by appointing “like-minded” people to head positions and removing those were not compliant with their agenda.
“Their motivation may well be linked to a deeply held religious conviction, but the effect has been to limit the life chances of the young people in their care and to render them more vulnerable to pernicious influences in the future,” Mr Clarke’s report said.
Due to these findings, Clarke voiced concerns that the city may have been infiltrated by Islamic groups which may result in the radicalization of students. According to Clarke, senior officers at the Birmingham City Council had known of the problem since 2012 but did nothing to stop it from occurring.