Gultepe Mosque in Rotterdam receives threat letter

The Gultepe Mosque in northern Rotterdam received a threat letter this week. Part of it reads: “You can’t trust anyone anymore, so leave now, when you’re still able too. Because death is in your mosques.” And: “You are the most ungrateful and disgusting people in the world. Your own your own schools, shops and butchers, because the Netherlands don’t seem to be good enough for you cockroachers. We’re done with it. Leave if you want to stay alive. Everyone hates you. You can’t trust anyone anymore.”

The mosque’s chairman doesn’t want to react on the issue. But there has been made a report with the police, who has start an investigation.

A Muslim in the city of The Hague also received a threat letter this week. The letters seem to be a consequence of the attacks in Paris.

Repealing the Chatel Circular, campaign to allow veiled mothers on school trips

A group of signatories have called for a repeal of the Chatel Circular:

“We ask for the removal of the Chatel Circular, which prohibits veiled mothers from accompanying their children on school trips. We ask for its removal because it is discriminatory, because it only targets Muslim women," reads a petition to abolish the Chatel Circular banning veiled women from accompanying their children on school trips.
“We ask for the removal of the Chatel Circular, which prohibits veiled mothers from accompanying their children on school trips.
We ask for its removal because it is discriminatory, because it only targets Muslim women,” reads a petition to abolish the Chatel Circular banning veiled women from accompanying their children on school trips.

“We ask for the removal of the Chatel Circular, which prohibits veiled mothers from accompanying their children on school trips.

We ask for its removal because it is discriminatory, because it only targets Muslim women.

We ask for its removal because it discriminates against women.

We ask for its removal because it is traumatizing for children who do not understand why their mothers are less worthy and capable than other parents of accompanying school groups.

We ask for its removal because it teaches children that discrimination is ‘normal,’ that it applies to mothers in their class, or their classmates.

We ask for its removal because this ban contributes to excluding families who wish to become involved in schools.

We ask for its removal because it is part of a growing movement of discriminatory measures that threatens to spread from primary school to college, to the workplace, to different sectors of society, to those who practice other religions, to the ban of all political action in high schools.

To support these mothers’ fight to accompany their children on school field trips is to defend the freedom of all men and women.”

The Chatel Circular states: “Please be advised that in the rules the secular principles of teaching and neutrality of public services are entirely applicable to public educational institutions. In particular, these principles prevent parents of students or any other party, by their conduct or their words, from expressing their religious, political or philosophical beliefs when they accompany their students on outings and school trips.” Guidelines and instructions in preparation of the 2012 school year, n° 2012-056 du 27-3-2012.

First signatories:

Participation et spiritualité musulmanes (PSM), Collectif Féministes pour l’égalité (CFPE), Mamans Toutes Égales (MTE), Association pour la reconnaissance des droits et libertés aux femmes musulmanes (ARDLFM), Collectif des musulmans de France (CMF), Commission Islam et laïcité, Union juive française pour la paix (UJFP), Mouvement du christianisme social, Front uni des immigrations et des quartiers populaires (FUIQP), Parti des indigènes de la République (PIR), Collectif enseignant pour l’abrogation de la loi du 15 mars 2004 (CEAL), Collectif antifasciste Paris-Banlieue (CAPAB), Union des organisations islamiques de France (UOIF), Institut de recherche et d’études sur la Méditerranée et le Moyen-Orient (iReMMO), Cedetim/Ipam, ATTAC France, Front thématique antiracismes du Front de gauche, Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA), Ensemble, Sortir du colonialisme, Fondation Frantz Fanon, Collectif Stop le contrôle au faciès, Studio Praxis, Femmes plurielles, AFD International, International Jewish Antizionist Network (IJAN), Tayush (Belgique), Bruxelles Panthères.

 

 

 

CDU politician from Rhineland-Palatinate demands burqa ban

Federal deputy and head of faction Julia Klöckner from the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) has demanded to restrict the full coverage of women in the

In Germany, full coverage of Muslim women being employed at schools, kindergartens and hospitals has become a controversial legal and political issue within the last months.
In Germany, full coverage of Muslim women being employed at schools, kindergartens and hospitals has become a controversial legal and political issue within the last months.

public. Underlining her claim for the burqa ban, Klöckner added: “The burqa would not stand for religious diversity but for a degrading image of women”. The State of Hesse was the first German State that banned the burqa from public service in 2011.

Full coverage of Muslim women being employed at schools, kindergartens and hospitals has become a controversial legal and political issue within the last months.

 

‘Radicalisation risk’ at six Muslim private schools, says Ofsted

The debate over “British values” came to the fore in the wake of the “Trojan horse” affairs, and the realization that hundreds of British Muslim men – and some women – had become radicalised enough to join extremists in Iraq and Syria. The government has stressed “fundamental British values” must be taught and encouraged in schools. To this end, secular and humanist campaigners have welcomed an increase in inspections, saying that for too long the UK has allowed religious communities to “enforce their own values and traditions” on children.

But the school that has been recently inspected said that during a two-day inspection in October, Ofsted asked pupils “vaguely worded questions which produced vague responses”. “To make sweeping generalisations on the basis of their response is utterly unprofessional,” it said in a statement.

Suggestions that children were not protected from extremist views were “completely unfounded”, it said, adding that Ofsted’s findings regarding the role of women did not “reflect the school’s attitude”. The school said it was “natural” for an Islamic school to have a “primary ethos” based on Islam, but that did not mean it taught children that other faiths and traditions were “antithetical to Islamic teachings”.

The six private schools are all in Tower Hamlets, where the council said it had no jurisdiction over teaching and standards at independent faith schools and that its powers were limited to offering training and advice to schools.

 

‘Trojan Horse schools plot’: What was the Trojan Horse letter?

July 6, 2014

 

In March, an anonymous letter was made public that claimed to be a template illustrating how state schools could be taken over and pushed into adopting a more Islamic culture. The document – now thought to be a hoax – proposed a campaign of installing governors and undermining and then replacing school leaders with staff who would be more sympathetic to their religious agenda.

It refers to “Operation Trojan Horse” as the name of the alleged conspiracy. This classical allusion refers to using a device to get past the defences and to take over the school system from within. It was apparently intended for schools serving areas with a large Muslim population. The tactics it proposed had already been used in Birmingham, the Operation Trojan Horse letter claimed. It has emerged that Birmingham City Council, the Department for Education’s Extremist Unit, the West Midlands Police Counter-Terrorism Unit and the National Association of Head Teachers were already aware of the letter.

A former head teacher at a Birmingham school said that such religiously-motivated, concerted attempts at forcing out heads had been taking place since the 1990s. Another head teacher said he had told the Department for Education (DfE) about the problem in 2010.

 

What are the claims?

There have been claims that boys and girls are being taught separately, assemblies have put forward extremist Islamist views and that a culture is created in which other religions are downgraded. Schools have rejected claims of extremism. There are also claims that teachers and head teachers have been discredited and undermined.

 

How seriously are claims of takeover plots being taken?

Michael Gove appointed former counter-terror chief, Peter Clarke, to investigate “the background behind many of the broader allegations in the Trojan Horse letter” for the DfE. Mr Gove says he expects to publish these findings in July. This appointment has created a controversy of its own, with the chief constable of West Midlands police calling it “desperately unfortunate” as people could draw “unwarranted conclusions” from Mr Clarke’s former role in counter terrorism. Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw took personal charge of the education watchdog’s investigations.

Khalid Mahmood, MP for Perry Barr, believes there are reasons to be concerned. “All the information I’m getting… is there has been a serious bid to take over most of the schools in the east and south of the city,” he said.

The National Association of Head Teachers says it takes the claims “extremely seriously”.

Tahir Alam, chair of governors at Park View School, says claims are “ridiculous”

How are the claims being investigated?

Including Ofsted’s, there are four investigations – carried out by Birmingham City Council, the DfE and the Education Funding Agency.

Ofsted said this was “new territory” – when it launched its biggest ever co-ordinated set of inspections over fears of extremism. It inspected 21 schools – a mix of primary, secondary, local authority and academies. They carried out unannounced inspections of a type which focuses on a single concern, rather than the overall quality of teaching and learning. When inspectors do not like what they find they have wide-ranging powers to intervene and order a change of direction.

The city council says that it is investigating 25 schools – prompted by more than 200 contacts from the public. An adviser has been appointed and there will be a review group of MPs, councillors, teachers’ organisations, police and faith leaders. But the politics of education have also become involved, with the council saying it is frustrated that it cannot investigate academies which operate outside of local authority control.

The government and Ofsted have produced an array of proposed changes to school governance after the publication of an inspection report on 21 Birmingham schools. Ofsted found “a culture of fear and intimidation” had taken grip in schools at the centre of the so-called Trojan Horse allegations.

The inspections followed claims in an anonymous letter that hard-line Muslims were trying to impose their views on some of the city’s schools.

Five have been placed in special measures, among them three academies from the Park View Educational Trust.

 

What are the main proposals?

Mr Gove said the government would require all schools to “promote British values” and would back Ofsted’s plan to introduce no-notice school inspections in England.

The chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, recommended:

  • Mandatory training for school governors
  • Changes to funding agreements for academies and free schools
  • An end to the exemption of free schools and academies from the national curriculum

 

What will happen to the five schools in special measures?

In his speech to the House of Commons, Mr Gove said the need for action was “urgent”.

Michael Gove Michael Gove says no pupil should be exposed to extremist views. “Academies will receive letters saying I am minded to terminate funding agreements,” he told MPs.

If this goes ahead, it would mean that Park View Education Trust, which runs Park View and two primary schools, would no longer receive funding to run the schools. The same will apply to Oldknow Academy. A DfE spokesman said this would be the first time this had happened. The DfE is awaiting a response from the trust and would have to find new sponsors for the three schools.

Mr Gove said the governors at local authority run Saltley School would be replaced. The Department for Education said Birmingham City Council had already started the process of imposing an interim executive board at Saltley. A sixth school, local authority run Alston Primary which has been in special measures since May, is already in the process of being turned into an academy “under a strong sponsor”, said the DfE.

 

How does the government define British values?

The prime minister defined British values as “freedom, tolerance, respect for the rule of law, belief in personal and social responsibility and respect for British institutions”. David Cameron said he hoped these values would be inculcated in any school in Britain “whether it was a private school, state school, faith-based school, free school, academy or anything else”.

The Department for Education added: “We want to create and enforce a clear and rigorous expectation on all schools to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”

 

How will British values be applied to all schools?

The Department for Education says the Independent School Standards, which apply to private schools, academies and free schools, already require schools to “respect” British values. It plans to consult shortly on tighter wording that will require schools to actively “promote” British values. The DfE says it is working with Ofsted on how inspectors will assess the new requirement. Ofsted will also update its training and guidance of inspectors.

School governors will be expected to play a role “in setting and securing an appropriate ethos and monitoring practice” in schools, says the DfE.

 

How might governors’ training change?

Training for governors is currently optional. It can be provided by local authorities or by the National College of Teaching and Leadership. The Department for Education and the National Governors’ Association (NGA) have both produced handbooks. The NGA says training is essential to help governors understand their complex and challenging role and responsibilities. Governors are expected to develop the ethos of the school, hold the head teacher to account and have financial oversight.

The NGA says the academies programme has brought more autonomy to schools so governing boards have more responsibility than ever and need training. “If a governor fails persistently to do this, then they will be in breach of the code of conduct and may bring the governing body or the office of a governor into disrepute – and as such provide grounds for the governing body to consider suspension,” said a spokesman.

 

How could the oversight of academies change?

Traditionally, local authorities have had a role in monitoring standards in the schools they control, acting as a “middle tier” between schools and the Department for Education. Now more than half of secondary schools are academies, funded directly by central government, free of local authority control and able to decide their own curriculum. Concerns have been expressed about the viability of Whitehall monitoring thousands of academies. The government is introducing regional schools commissioners and Head Teacher Boards to improve oversight of academies, while the Labour party proposes a network of regional school standards directors.

 

How did Home Secretary Theresa May become involved?

In a letter to the Education Secretary, Mrs May has raised concerns about the DfE’s handling of the allegations of extremism. She said concerns had been raised about the “inability” of local and central government to tackle the alleged problem in Birmingham’s schools. She also questioned whether Mr Gove’s department was warned about the allegations in 2010 and asked: “If so, why did nobody act?”

The two senior Cabinet members have now moved to dampen down speculation of a rift. They have taken the unusual step of issuing a joint statement insisting they are “working together” on the issue. Commentators are seeing the row as two Conservative heavy-weights jostling for position should there be any change to the party’s leadership.

 

How widespread is this problem?

The biggest inquiry so far is the council’s, which is looking at 25 schools in Birmingham, out of more than 400 in the city. The council says that it will also be talking to local authorities in Bradford and Manchester.

 

Sources:

The Guardian 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/06/michael-gove-defend-liberal-values-islamist-extremism

The BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-27020970

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-26482599

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-27024881

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-27012861

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/trojan-horse-row-teachers-suspended-for-refusing-to-impose-strict-islamic-model-9530535.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/trojan-horse-school-when-i-go-to-college-people-are-going-to-say-is-he-carrying-a-bomb-9517826.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/trojan-horse-row-theresa-may-accused-of-writing-letter-slating-department-of-eduction-just-to-leak-it-9517286.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/trojan-horse-schools-ofsted-finds-culture-of-fear-and-intimidation-9515306.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/trojan-horse-schools-tried-to-fool-inspectors-ofsted-report-reveals-9511895.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/trojan-horse-row-theresa-may-breached-ministerial-code-in-feud-with-michael-gove-over-extremism-in-schools-labour-claims-9509342.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/trojan-horse-row-michael-gove-ordered-to-apologise-to-cameron-for-times-briefing-9507170.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/michael-gove-promises-to-push-on-with-controversial-school-reforms-9503822.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/gross-negligence-tristram-hunt-challenges-goves-handling-of-trojan-horse-schools-crisis-9503534.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/trojan-horse-pupils-not-safe-from-extreme-views-claims-ofsted-report-9494642.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/michael-gove-denies-war-with-theresa-may-over-antiextremism-strategy-9492098.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/lib-dems-in-call-for-all-state-teachers-to-be-qualified-9533271.html

The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/10963620/Trojan-Horse-hardliner-runs-teacher-recruiting-agency.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10956859/Ofsted-tougher-inspections-in-wake-of-Trojan-Horse-plot.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10949131/Trojan-Horse-plot-school-pays-campaigner-5000-in-public-money-to-thwart-Ofsted.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10949930/Trojan-Horse-Birmingham-council-ignored-warnings-for-12-years.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10892606/Trojan-Horse-debate-We-were-wrong-all-cultures-are-not-equal.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10883151/Trojan-Horse-plot-school-criticised-in-Ofsted-report.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10899804/Trojan-Horse-how-we-revealed-the-truth-behind-the-plot.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10900683/Ofsted-head-to-meet-parents-in-Trojan-Horse-plot.html

Hamburg begins with interreligious education

June 23, 2014

Starting in August 2014 two schools in Hamburg will test religious education in a joint sponsorship involving Jewish, Christian and Islamic communities. With this the federal state of Hamburg implements a treaty closed one year ago. Precondition for Muslim teachers is, however, that they have a regular as well as an Islamic teaching qualification and that the student body contains a high proportion of children with an Islamic background. In re-organizing religious education Hamburg’s school board is expecting positive effects on tolerance and de-radicalization.

Muslim leaders ask for equal billing with Jewish holiday on Montgomery calendar

Muslim community leaders in Montgomery County this week asked that the Islamic holy day of Eid al-Adha be given equal billing as the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur on Montgomery’s 2015-2016 school calendar.

They described the issue as symbolic but important.

In 2015, both holidays will fall on Wednesday, Sept. 23, but a calendar draft does not give them the same weight. Yom Kippur — for which county schools will be closed — is listed beside the date. The Muslim holiday is included in a parenthetical notation: Eid al-Adha also falls on this date.

Muslim leader Saqib Ali asked at a school board meeting this week that the calendar be changed to say: Yom Kippur/Eid al-Adha.

“We need to see equal treatment,” Ali told the board. “Here is a case where, on a piece of paper — this is strictly a symbolic issue — but on this day when schools are closed, even on this day, the Jewish holidays are given sort of precedence or elevated.”

The calendar question comes after Muslim leaders have repeatedly asked that at least one of the two major Muslim holidays be recognized with a day off school in Montgomery.

This week’s calendar request, signed by six other leaders of the Eid coalition, “is a very, very minimal request,” Ali said. He said the convergence of the two holidays is a “happy coincidence” for Muslim families, but more is needed.

“If MCPS can’t list the holidays equally, if they won’t even grant that, then I think people are going to start asking questions about MCPS’s general attitude toward the Muslim community,” he said.

Board Member Christopher Barclay asked district staff to look into the request. He also said he believes a standard is needed for school closings.

House gives nod to Volusia-inspired textbook review bill

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House, essentially reacting to a months-old protest over the portrayal of Islam in Volusia County school textbooks, passed a bill Monday that would give local school boards, parents and protesters more power over classroom materials.

Hours later, a small but vocal group of demonstrators in Daytona Beach rallied to keep textbook selection free from political battles over religious and cultural differences.

“I’m concerned about having a narrow point of view presented to students; they need to have all sides of an issue, multiple points of view presented,” said Dan Spink, a retired teacher from Port Orange who joined the rally.

The proposal, which still has to go to the state Senate for approval, was the less dramatic of two textbook bills in the Legislature — the other a Senate bill that would have eliminated altogether the state’s role in short-listing and choosing books.

“This is a win for us,” said state Rep. David Santiago, R-Deltona, who joined in the 84-33 House vote to approve the measure. He said he spoke to local school officials, and “they’d rather take this version of it than the Senate’s.”

Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, voted yes in a break with the House Democrats, most of whom voted against the bill. Rep. Dave Hood, R-Daytona Beach Shores, was not present for the vote.

The issue itself started in Volusia. A November School Board meeting was canceled because of security concerns when conservatives rallied to protest the use of the 10th-grade world history textbook they called pro-Islam. The book had a chapter about the rise of Muslim civilizations without a corresponding chapter on Christianity.

The measure the House approved retains the state-level textbook screening process, along with an existing option (passed by the Legislature last year) for local school boards to take over the instructional materials review and selection process if they want.

The House’s language also would require school boards to adopt a formal process for public review and comment on textbooks being considered for adoption and resolution of any objections that might arise from that.

In the Senate, Hays’ original bill would have gone a step further, eliminating the state review and short-listing of appropriate textbooks altogether. That task would’ve been turned over to local districts individually or in small groups. That version passed the Senate earlier this month by a vote of 21-19. Local Republicans Dorothy Hukill of Port Orange and John Thrasher of St. Augustine supported it.

Head teachers’ union raises serious concerns over ‘Trojan Horse’ schools

The National Association of Head Teachers says it has serious concerns over schools at the centre of the alleged Islamic plot in Birmingham, with the union’s general secretary warning that Islamic groups wanted “a dominant influence” over schools in the city.

 

Russell Hobby, the NAHT’s general secretary, was speaking before the union’s conference in Birmingham this weekend, where he is to tell delegates: “A tight network of religious leaders of the Islamic faith has made a concerted effort to get involved in the running of schools and to strengthen the power of governing bodies to have a dominant influence in shaping the character of local schools.”

 

Hobby said that while his union was convinced the “Trojan Horse” letter – which described an alleged plot to undermine schools in the city – was fake, it had triggered warnings about school governance, abuse of employment laws and interference with children’s education.

 

Hobby said: “We don’t believe that these allegations are a cause for panic. But neither do we believe that they are a source of comfort either, there have been things going on inside our schools which would make some of us feel uncomfortable.”

 

Hobby said the NAHT and its members had identified three main areas of concern:

 

“The first is contravening what we understand to be the principles of good governance and putting pressure on the paid school leaders within schools to adopt certain philosophies and approaches.”

 

“The second we believe is breaching good employment practice and indeed employment law in order to further this influence, and putting pressure on individual staff members heading into territory which we understand to be constructive dismissal and making sure people are appointed to schools on the basis of their beliefs and not necessarily their skills.”

 

The third issue, which Hobby said was “more serious but also more speculative”, was whether the entitlement of children to a rounded education had been contravened.

 

Ofsted said all 21 inspection reports will be published together with a letter from the chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, to the Department of Education at the beginning of June.

Teacher admits campaign to install Muslim staff at schools

A senior teacher at the centre of an alleged plot by religious hard-liners to seize control of governing bodies has admitted that there was a campaign to install Muslims in leading roles at schools in Birmingham. Nearly 20 schools in the city are currently being investigated over claims that male and female pupils were segregated, sex education banned and extremist clerics praised in assemblies.

 

Speaking anonymously to Channel 4 News on Sunday night, the teacher admitted there was a campaign to assert more Muslim influence in schools, describing it as “a very positive thing”. He said: “This is about the proportion of representation and leadership on boards of schools that serve predominantly Muslim children. These teachers and leaders have a deeper understanding of the view of the population in these schools. I think the needs of Muslim children have been neglected for many, many years. There even school in areas with high Muslim population that do not serve halal meat, for example.”