UK PM 'concerned' over Muslim schools row

Remarks come as education minister prepares to submit report on alleged Birmingham plot by "Islamic extremists".

    UK PM 'concerned' over Muslim schools row
    Cameron's intervention follows months of reports about 'extremists' infiltrating schools [Reuters]

    David Cameron, the UK prime minister, is "deeply concerned" about allegations that "Islamic extremists" have been plotting to take over UK schools.

    Cameron made the remarks on Saturday evening, following a week of infighting between senior government ministers and months of reports that Muslim-majority schools in the city of Birmingham were being infiltrated by religious conservatives to make them adhere to a strict interpretation of Islam.

    Michael Gove, UK education secretary, will present findings from the government's investigations on Monday, the same day that Ofsted, the education watchdog for England, publishes its report into the Trojan Horse controversy.

    A statement from Downing Street said: "The prime minister has been deeply concerned by the allegations made about extremism and a number of Birmingham schools.

    “The government has taken swift action to investigate these allegations since they emerged in late 2013. The prime minister is taking a specific interest in ensuring this serious matter is being dealt with effectively."

    The statement added: "The prime minister has made clear that he expects a robust response from all relevant organisations to any findings that confirm that the safety and learning of children in our schools have been put at risk.

    "The prime minister has prioritised fighting all forms of extremism, including through setting up his Extremism Taskforce in the wake of the horrific killing of Lee Rigby."

    Park View Educational Trust, which runs one of the schools under scrutiny, has criticised Ofsted for its handling of the matter.

    It said last Thursday that inspections of Golden Hillock were conducted in a climate created by the "Trojan Horse" letter and "unproven" allegations in media reports.

    "This led to unprecedented lines of enquiry from Ofsted based on proving the imposition of strict Islamic practices at Trust schools - such as segregation of boys and girls, forcing of wearing headscarves, promotion of homophobic or racist views. Golden Hillock’s Ofsted report finds absolutely no evidence of these practices."

    The Trojan Horse letter, discovered in March, was said to be from Muslims wanting to take control of schools in Birmingham by complaining about their leadership with accusations of forced Christian prayer and mixed physical education.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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