LONDON (AP) — A British government investigation found evidence Tuesday that Muslim fundamentalists successfully gained control of some schools, raising fears that pupils are now vulnerable to radicalization.
It said there was an “effective take-over” by like-minded people of a number of schools in Birmingham, Britain’s second-largest city, leading to “the reinforcement of Muslim identity to the exclusion or disparagement of others.”
British Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said the report’s findings were disturbing.
“What has been so upsetting about the history in this small handful of schools is that the success of efforts to encourage more British Muslims to take up governing roles has been damaged by the actions of a few,” she said.
The report found “coordinated, deliberate and sustained action” by a number of people to introduce an “intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos” into some of the city’s schools. It pointed to a pattern in which school authorities criticized well regarded head teachers and senior teachers were bullied, while new governing board staff members were rapidly promoted.
The investigation examined online discussions between one all-male group of teachers at Park View School and found them to have disparaged certain strands of Islam, expressed homophobic sentiments and sought to increase segregation at the school.
The report said Birmingham City Council failed to alert authorities of the practices that made some teachers worry pupils were learning to be intolerant of diversity, and may now find it harder to question or challenge radical influences.
As a consequence of the report, the council said its whistle-blowing processes will be strengthened and teachers involved face being barred from the profession.
Mohammed Zabar, a Muslim parent whose daughter attends Oldknow Academy, welcomed the report. He said parents did not speak out for fear of speaking “against Islam.”
Investigators did not find evidence of violent extremism or terrorism.
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