Sex education classes at the Park View School in the British city of Birmingham included some dubious insights for teenagers this year.
“On the lesson worksheets it was written that if a woman said ‘No’ to sex with her husband, the Angel Gabriel would strike her down and condemn her to an eternity of hell,” said a parliamentary report published Tuesday.
So the classes didn’t exactly create a climate conducive to learning for either sex. “Following these lessons, there was commotion in the corridors, with boys telling girls that they couldn’t refuse them,” the report states.
Park View and 12 other Birmingham public schools are at the center of the "Trojan Horse" scandal now exploding in Britain. Citing the report written by anti-terror expert Peter Clarke, officials have sacked school leaders and appointed a new education commissioner to investigate how radical Islam took root in the city’s education system.
“Instead of enjoying a broadening and enriching experience in school, young people are having their horizons narrowed and are being denied the opportunity to flourish in a modern multicultural Britain,” said British Education Secretary Nicky Morgan during an address to parliament on Tuesday.
Morgan stressed that the schools weren’t training a new generation of terrorists. “There has been no evidence of direct radicalization or violent extremism,” she said.
'It was commissioned as part of a campaign really, an offensive against our school, which was politically motivated.'
The report, however, Morgan said, suggested that tolerance of Islam had given some Muslim teachers license to pursue a radical agenda.
“There is a clear account in the report of people in positions of influence in these schools, with a restricted and narrow interpretation of their faith, who have not promoted fundamental British values and who have failed to challenge the extremist views of others,” she said.
Tahir Alam, the former head of the Park View Education Trust who resigned on July 15 as regulators descended on the school, said the report was designed to tarnish the progress he’s made in improving test scores among poor students who largely hail from Pakistan.
“It was commissioned as part of a campaign really, an offensive against our school, which was politically motivated,” Alam told BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday.
Following Muslim customs, students weren’t permitted to draw faces in art class, Clarke's report said. Administrators referred to staff and students who didn’t pray daily as “kaffirs,” a derogatory term for those who have rejected Islam. Teachers described homosexuals as “animals.” And a group of teachers known as the “Park View Brotherhood” maintained a group discussion on WhatsApp rife with hateful talk.
Other critics also raised objections to the report, saying its findings reflect the British government’s fear-mongering more than an overlooked threat.
'They’ve taken a hoax letter and ratcheted things up. It’s anonymous. It’s not clear where it come from. I compare it to the WMD dossier that was used to take us to Iraq.'
Steph Green, a tutor in youth and community work at Ruskin College in Oxford who has worked with educators from the schools, noted that Clarke’s report read like a police inquiry precisely because he’s a cop. Clarke was head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command between 2002 and 2008. His team in Birmingham didn’t include educators.
“I can’t trust it,” Green told VICE News, referring to Clarke’s report. “It may be that a teacher and a governor in one of those schools have attitudes that I would disagree with. But it’s not of a general piece with anyone I’ve met.”
Clarke launched his investigation months ago after newspapers published an unsigned letter sent to Birmingham officials in March claiming that Muslim extremists were conducting “Operation Trojan Horse” in a bid to Islamicize city schools. Clarke states in his report that the letter contains “factual inaccuracies,” but nonetheless that some of its assertions are true.
Green thought it was ludicrous to take anything in the letter seriously.
“They’ve taken a hoax letter and ratcheted things up,” she said. “It’s anonymous. It’s not clear where it come from. I kind of compare it to the WMD dossier that was used to take us to Iraq. It’s dodgy. I saw a copy of it. It’s nonsense.”
She suspects Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is permitting hysteria to develop in order to pander to far-right voters who believe Muslim and other immigrants were diluting British culture.
Follow John Dyer on Twitter: @johndyerjr