A letter, which details a plot to takeover British state schools and use them to teach extremist interpretations of Islam, came into the possession of members of the Birmingham City Council. It was later leaked to British media. It was allegedly a correspondence between two Islamists, one in Birmingham and one in Bradford, both in the UK.
"Operation Trojan Horse," as it is named in the letter, sets out a strategy on how to remove uncooperative teachers and replace them with Islamists and eliminate mixed sports and other activities have been deemed 'un-Islamic.' It names four schools as having already been successfully taken over in Birmingham: Adderley Primary, Saltley School, Park View School and Regents Park Community School.
The plan detailed in the letter is simple. It requires first recruiting support from parents of children at the school, preferably "hardline," Salafi parents. These parents are then to form a united front to pressure the head teacher and individuals to conform to the Islamist doctrine and practice i.e. compulsory hijabs, only halal meat, compulsory Islamic prayer etc.
Campaigns of harassment and intimidation are to be used to eventually force uncooperative teachers to quit, so they can be replaced with more compliant teachers. Writing to MPs, governors and teachers and complaining about the standard of education are tactics recommended in the letter. Parents are asked to say "that the school is corrupting their children with sex education, teaching about homosexuals, making their children pray Christian prayers and mixed swimming and sports."
Religious coercion in Britain's state schools is illegal. For those who prefer a particular religious environment for their children a provision for religious schools exists, and there are many Muslim schools in the UK, along with other faith schools, that receive state funding.
Some have argued that the letter is a fraud. Tahir Alam, the former chair of the education committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, called the letter "a malicious fabrication and completely untrue." He is, however, named personally in the letter and is closely involved in Muslim education in schools.
One teacher, Michael White, claims that after Alam became chairman of the board of governors at Park View school, he was forced from his position as head of Mathematics. He had tried to block attempts to appoint unqualified Islamists to teaching positions and opposed the banning of sex education. He told The Daily Mail, "It was a highly-organised, clever operation that I was powerless to fight." According to the Telegraph, a senior teacher at Park View "repeatedly endorsed the terrorist ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki at school assemblies." Awlaki was a high ranking al-Qaeda leader and propogandist who was a major influence on the jihadist movement. He was killed in 2011.
Aside from Alam's role in the Muslim Council of Britain, he is vice-chair of the Association of Muslim Schools. Last year at its conference one of the speakers attacked "attempts to integrate Muslim children" as an effort "to produce new generations that will reject Islam."
Although the letter is unsigned and undated, there is plenty of corroborating evidence to support the claims it makes. Teachers who have been forced to resign have lined up to tell their stories. One teacher reported how Islamists turned against her after she reported children in her class returning from after school Qu'ran class covered in bruises. She said people arrived at the school asking her class for any incriminating evidence against her.
The Telegraph's London editor Andrew Gilligan said "whether or not the letter is genuine, much of what it describes is certainly real." According to Telegraph investigations, "there is indeed an organised group of Muslim teachers, education consultants, school governors and activists dedicated to furthering what one of them describes as an “Islamising agenda” in Birmingham’s schools."
The Telegraphs goes on to say that Islamist activists, who are members of the local Muslim communities in Birmingham, convene in person and online to discuss ways of furthering their Islamist agenda. Conversations from a private WhatsApp Group called "Educational Activists" were leaked to the Telegraph. One entry, which was apparently "typical" crowed: "A battle was fought and won tonight at a large inner city primary school where the governors voted by 8-7 in favor of collective worship that is wholly or mainly of an Islamic character, thereby overturning five years of 'children pray in their own way and language’! The governing body is now polarized on faith grounds."
This is not the first time that attempts to Islamize education have caused controversy. Last month an Islamic boy's school was warned by the Department of Education under gender equality law for advertising a position as a temporary science teacher only for male applicants.
The Telegraph names several prominent Muslim community figures as involved in the effort. Other papers including the Guardian and The Daily Mail name a variety of individuals and schools as involved. So far, there no specific organization has been linked to the campaign. Individuals involved within the campaign are affiliated with a myriad of groups, councils and committees.
Whether the letter itself is a forgery, investigations have revealed a clearly orchestrated and organized campaign. The goal is straightforward: to impose a strict Islamic education upon British children in order to pass on a radical interpretation of the Muslim faith.