Hamza takes a long, hard look at what the government found when it investigated more than 20 majority-Muslim schools in Birmingham. And our two reporters have a confrontation – with each other.
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As I was coming to get my final project done when Brian got in touch saying we needed to talk. And they’ve done OK. Well, it’s not great, honestly. Oh good, so I. I just got this email. This was when we were looking into early primary school trying to find information about the head. Teacher responded and the four teaching assistants who said their resignation letters had been faked. When Bryan requested records from the Employment Tribunal about the case, the tribunal contacted the people involved to ask whether they wanted the records released. Turns out some of them did not. Brian started reading a letter to me that just been sent to the tribunal by the three Muslim TAS in response to his request, the main responsibility of a journalist is to report the news in a truthful, unbiased and apolitical way, and to educate the public about events and issues and how they affect their lives. I do not believe these matter will be reported in quote UN quote an unbiased and a political way. The lead figure in this exercise is Mr. Syed, a student journalist who intends to use Mr Reed’s radio station as a medium to advocate his opinions. Oh wow, we have received letters directly indirectly, slash indirectly from Mr. Syed. Attached attached my letters they have. Oh boy, it is the contents of these letters which raise concerns. We quote a paragraph from the letter addressed to Mr. Aslam. Oh no. Yeah. Oh no. Mr. Aslam is the brother of two of the teaching assistants from early primary school, Brian. I had a weird phone call with Aslam early on to ask if he’d connect us with his sisters. He’s reluctant to admit it was him we were speaking, too. He asked suspiciously how he got his number for his law office, even though it’s just advertised online and then he hung up on us. It seemed like all you heard were the words journalist and Trojan horse and he shut down. We decided to follow up with a letter. Usually Brian Allocco, Brita, this emails and letters to potential sources before we send them, but Aslam had seemed especially distrustful of reporters. Shortly after we talked, he actually changed his WhatsApp profile picture to Malcolm X meme about media controlling the minds of the masses. So I said to Brian, let me try a more personal appeal with this one. Let him know there’s someone with some shared background involved in this project. Brother to brother. I think of the words I actually said to Brian. And so with this one letter. I drafted it on my own, sealed in an envelope. And I dropped it off at a slums office. I never heard back. Until now. As Brian read to me, the court filing that he and the people involved in the early case, including risk manager and the Bone City Council, had just been sent as well. Quoting my letter to Islam. Quote I’m on a masters program for investigative journalism. Currently I graduate the September the Trojan Horse began as my dissertation project at as my first attempt to start righting wrongs. I never believed in the official narrative regarding the Trojan horse. I never believed the letter was authentic. I never believed Tahir Alam was masterminding the sinister Islamic plot. I never believed Birmingham City Council. I never believed Peter Clark. I never believed Michael Gove. I never believed, responded are and I never believed her sisters wrote those resignation letters. What I believe is I’m going to change this narrative. Princella End Quote. Oh boy. With each old boy I was coming to terms with both how bad. And how confusing the situation was. By this point, I knew the TAS didn’t want to participate in our story. I’ve been trying to get in touch with them all sorts of ways, including through other family members who told me that he didn’t want this painful chapter dredged up again. And the team said as much in this letter to the tribunal. In fact, they went further, saying they’re worried that being thrust back into the public eye could put their safety at risk somehow. But in addition, the TAS were now making the bewildering argument. That they didn’t want me to have the records from that case. Because I was too biased in favor of them, we trust the above sets out clearly our position as the applicants. In this case yours faithfully Shawn’s BB, Yasmin Akhtar Rohana comb. And then they’ve attached both your letter to assalam and then your letter to rohina. As evidence. So. It’s one thing as a reporter, to have a read on a situation to have theories. It’s another to have such an unambiguous take and to spell it out in writing and send it around to people. Others could do exactly what the Tas were doing. Brandish Homes had written to try and discredit our work. It could cause people to distrust our reporting. Plus, we haven’t even asked Rosanna Dar for an interview yet. She’s obviously one of the key people we were reporting on, and I was hopeful she might talk to him then me. But this letter. This was likely responders introduction to us homza writing that he never believed her. Dude, I wish you hadn’t wrote this this way. I got to be honest. Yeah, I know, I know. I don’t, I don’t even know what to do now. I’m genuinely genuinely so sorry for writing that mate. Clearly I was just trying to. I was going too strong just to get him on our side, you know. It wasn’t a word that I thought would be like being passed around. I thought, OK, we’re not going to be able to win him. With anything kind of how fast might as well just kind of go all in. Listen, I understand why you wrote this and this is new for you. I get it’s your first story. But like I’m sorry, yeah just fucked up man. I fucked up. I’m sorry no. I’m not trying to. Dude, I’m not. I’m not trying to shame you into an apology. Don’t worry about that but I just. Like it’s not a front the the like you know like I wanna be like I’m open to any possibility you know of the truth here you know and I think you are too like you know I don’t. I read this and it doesn’t feel accurate to how you feel. It’s not just that we have our as a journalist. We have our opinions, but don’t say them. I really try to. Really be open while letting facts lead me towards conclusions. It’s not like I have some conclusion and then. Just don’t say it, you know. I’m not trying to lecture you, I’m just trying to talk it out, that’s all. You there? Yeah, I’m just I’m just. You know I’ve killed it. Oh man, can you just? Can you just call me back like 5 minutes or something? Hundreds need to list. I’ll ask him, just go drink some water or something. Yeah, hey, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to I did. I did. I feel like I was lecturing you there. I didn’t mean for it to come off that way. I’m really sorry. Not. As I said, you got you got nothing to apologize for in this situation. I have fucked us both up and it’s my fault and you know, you’re being surprisingly patient with me. If I wanted to flowers, trust me, I would not be this diplomatic with you. If that was you had done that. Uhm? Man, whatever. I’ll own those words. I will own those words, you know. What do you mean I own them? Do you believe them like are they true? Well, OK, here’s let me. Let me just be frank here. OK, what’s that list again? Who am I saying that I don’t believe? You never believed in the official narrative regarding the Trojan horse. That seems fair. That’s fine. I never believed the letter was authentic. Take that one. You never believe tire Allen was masterminding the sinister Islamic plot? I didn’t. I never believed Birmingham City Council. I don’t, I still don’t. I never believed Peter Clark. I don’t. I never believed Michael Gove. I don’t. I never believed Rezvan Adar. I don’t. I feel like what you have there. Is like. The reality of just a human being. You have my. Mindset as a person of what I thought this incident was. And you have my. Approach as a journalist of the way I’m pursuing it as a journalist. As I begin with like a hunch, like a instinct you know, based on things that I’ve researched. That doesn’t mean that when facts suggest otherwise, I remain stubborn and I’d stick to my original premise. There’s a reason this story isn’t broadcast yet. I understand what you’re saying, but also the wording is I never believed, you know. Word I know. I’m I’m not, I’m not. I am not defending my language nor the fact that I wrote or anything along that line. It it it? It just poisons everything. It poisons everything. ‘cause now it’s not in the hands of impartial journalists. Now it’s in the hands of like a biased, you know, mob. God I, I just wish we’d, ah. God. A mate. I’d worked with Homza long enough to know that what he was telling me was true. Sure he had suspicions, but he was working hard to uncover facts. And following the facts where they lead, I was frustrated that he’d written this breathless letter that didn’t properly capture the work I knew we were doing. But what I realize now listening back to this call with all my sorry man’s and my discomfort is that I was in the middle of a change in how I understand my work. There was a way I’d gone about my job for years that I’d begun to doubt without really admitting it to myself. This change crystallized for me after our next leg of reporting when we teased apart the government’s investigations into Birmingham schools, we dove into those investigations and the reports they produced because for a year and a half hams and I’ve been hearing that there wasn’t any value in focusing on the Trojan Horse letter on its source or its purpose. The letter people would say whatever it’s unknowns or factual errors didn’t matter anymore because all the subsequent investigations had found that something troubling was happening. In Birmingham schools, the most damning investigation was also the most prominent 1 conducted on behalf of the National Department for Education by the former head of counterterrorism at Scotland Yard, Peter Clarke. And once we delved into Peter Clarke’s report, that’s when it really set in for me what Hamza is up against as a journalist. Covering this story and as a person. From serial productions and the New York Times I’m Brian Reed and I’m a pain in the ass. This is the Trojan horse affair. Alright Peter Clarke, as I’ve made inconveniently clear in my letter to Islam, which now filed away in the Midlands West Employment Tribunal. I was, you know, skeptical of clock. But I wasn’t alone in that. The decision by the Department of Education to appoint the former head of counterterrorism was described as desperately unfortunate by the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police. It’s a concern that the choice of this former terrorism official to investigate Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove was the one who chose Peter Clark to run the Trojan Horse investigation and people started grousing the moment Gove appointed him. The issue is in Bowman schools seem to be about school procedures, curriculum, hiring, religious practice. Clark was known for executing high profile terrorist links. Why would you need someone with that background for this investigation? Terrorism, we’re dealing with allegations here. We’re not dealing with Al Qaeda. We’ve had a number, but Gove Stpeter Clark to Birmingham anyway. That if people have been unfairly alleged to have taken part in activities, of which there entirely innocent, then there can be no more effective figure to exonerate them. Of those charges then Peter Clarke. For three months, clock posted up in my city. He and a team with Davey officials conducted 43 interviews, many on condition of Animite where staff connected to schools in East Birmingham and others and at the end of it he published his report. His conclusion was this. That there had been quote coordinated, deliberate, and sustained action, carried out by number of associated individuals. To introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in Birmingham. And that these people in positions of influence quote, espouse, endorse, or fail to challenge extremist views. Clock writes that he conducted his investigation in an atmosphere where there was a great deal of rumor, speculation and unevidenced assertion, and so quote I’ve treated the entire investigation as an exercise. In fact, finding and establishing a sound verifiable and, whenever possible, fully corroborated evidence base. When I read Peter Clarke’s report for the first time, though, I was not seeing a fully corroborated evidence base. Far from it. For instance, let’s look at Parkview School, to which Clark devotes a lot of attention in this report. In one chapter he includes a bullet point list of allegations, about Parkview, and at the very top of the list, the first item. Peter Clarke speaks about. A terrorist video in the school. Terrorist video in the school. This is the hero Lumm Parkview’s, former chair of governors. When we asked him about Peter Clarke’s investigation, he remembered this video thing immediately. It’s one of Clark’s most incendiary findings from any school. Quote. It technicians recording what appeared to be Al Qaeda terrorist videos into a DVD format. Now what impression do you get from that? In a school, should they be terrorist videos, the answer is no. So the schools done something wrong, haven’t they? Now, what information did Peter Clark have from the people in the school? That particular video was brought in by somebody who was working for the police? According to him, someone doing an anti crime program for the cops had noticed that the school had a DVD burner and asked if they could use him and their video they were copying. The terrorist video happens to be a panorama program, you know that show. It was not terrorist video, it was a documentary done by the BBC Palma program about maybe Afghanistan. Here, says Parkview shared this explanation with Peter Clark and his investigation team. In fact, they shared a lot of mitigating and controverting evidence for the claims people were living against them, yet Peter Clark includes little reference to that information in the report beyond one line, saying quote. It is only fair to point out that Parkview had disputed most, if not all of the allegations. Today, if you go on the government website you’ll see the terrorist video still needs a list of claims about Parkview, even though the Department for Education later wrote an internal memo that we’ve seen admitting they can find no proof to back you up. I want to do evaluate the other claims in Peter Clarke’s report. I knew that a year or so after report came out. Many of the allegations had been interrogated in public hearings at what was known as the National College for Teaching and Leadership. When the government tried to ban a number of the Parkview staff from the teaching profession during those hearings, Parkview leaders and lawyers had the opportunity to put forward their side of the story and cross examine, not Peter Clarke himself who didn’t testify at the hearing and also declined to speak to us but the DF. It shows who investigated Parkview with him and Clark, sources from inside the school. I got the transcript of the hearing against Parkview senior leadership team. It was thousands of pages and took a whole summer to slog through. I’m going to take the next 2000 hours to walk you through each allegation. I’m kidding. So I am going to take you through a bunch of the clock allegations. Once the government focused on in their case against the teachers because it’s the only way I can think of to fully convey the sinkholes in Clark’s investigation and why I don’t think anyone should be basing their understanding of the Trojan horse affair on this report. A number of the claims in Clarks report we’ve discussed already as part of our interview, which soon Steve Packer. Peter Clark reports on the sex education class, the tennis lesson, the lack of promotion and opportunity for women. But there are a lot more. For one clockwise, the Parkview student prefects our version of Hall. Monitors were trained according to some staff to operate as morality police. That they would provide the head teacher with the names of pupils who say had a boyfriend or girlfriend or if a girl who wasn’t sufficiently covered. At the disciplinary hearing a year later, the government was unable to put forward any student who remembers this. They actually put forward no students to testify against the school at all. The testimony the government did provide to support this claim was from 1 Parkview teacher who said on the stand that she believes student prefects were monitoring the score as religious police because she saw kids in detention and didn’t know why they were there and another teacher told her it was because they were in a relationship. The school denied that was the reason students were being detention, but regardless, this teacher doesn’t explain how she got the idea that a student prefects who had snitched on their classmates. Meanwhile, a number of other teachers testified that they never heard about prefects acting as morality squad and a former prefect took their stand to say they were asked to do anything like that. There’s a lot in the Clark report about the assemblies at Parkview School being anti American or anti Christian or anti Israeli with indoctrination of students going on. But after hearing from what I gathered, reading the transcript, and this was confirmed by lawyer involved with the case. Most of the staff who made claims about the nature of assemblies had made they never been to an assembly at the school. Super was one. Sue testified the school assemblies were only ever led by men and when confronted by a lawyer with the names of women on staff who hosted assemblies at school, Sue said her statement about it only being men was based on her quote, belief that that was the case. One teacher who testified had attended assemblies, he said during one of them Parkview acting. Headteacher Masane told children that quote the answer to everything is equal, which he found concerning, because why liquor does mean read or seeking knowledge in Arabic. It’s a religious term from the Quran and this teacher felt uncomfortable with that. You also testified that it is in agree that Accra is the answer to everything. Peter Clarke wrote that some east Birmingham schools had, for religious reasons, prevented students from hearing musical instruments and from singing at the disciplinary hearing at DMV. Investigator admitted that he hadn’t checked inside the cupboard in Parkview’s music room where the music teacher says the instruments were kept. School staff spoke Parkway students singing assemblies of children being on stage with Roger Waters. The basis of Pink Floyd. Clark also writes that he found financial mismanagement at Parkview School. One of his fellow investigators from the taffy stated at the hearing that they found no such thing. This is the problem with the clerk report. He provides no clear sourcing or verification for the vast majority of his allegations. There are scant facts or figures or footnotes or context which is not, by the way Peter Clarke’s normal style. After the Trojan horse affair, he went on to become England prison inspector and in the reports he produced for that job. He’s way more transparent about his work and how his findings are corroborated. The prison reports are annotated full statistics, whereas in his Trojan horse report you kind of have to take his word for it. Even claims that were based on something that did occur. There was often more to the story than what Clark reported. For example, Clark writes that there were attempts to stop Christmas celebrations. In Parkview, it’s true that Tahir Alam and others believe that some parents would object to their kids participating in certain Christmas activities, such as playing a Christian figure in an activity play. The student body was around 97% Muslim, but what’s missing from clerks report is that the school did put up Christmas trees, held a Christmas assembly where a pastor spoke about the holiday. Organized a Christmas music concert at the hearing Steve Packer, who seemed most concerned about Christmas, testified that all this was true, though he said there weren’t Christmas songs sung at the Christmas concert. Clark also writes that Parkview did not have a procedure for vetting external speakers invited to the school, which leadership acknowledged. Peter Clark returned several times to this one in mom, who visited from Australia, who despite the fact that the Australian government has called him a widely respected Islamic figure in the country and a moderating influence on Muslim youth, Clark says, has a history of extolling extremist views. Though moms name is Sheikh Shady as Suleiman and the specific quote clerk references from an old sermon of Sheikh Shady’s. Was actually read into the record of the House of Commons by Michael Gove. The school invited. The preacher shakes Shadi Al Sulaiman to speak despite the fact that he is reported to have said give victory to Muslims in Afghanistan, give victory to all the major Dean all over the world or other prepare us for the jihad. I know Gaupe was reciting those words from shake shady’s old sermon as if they’re scary. But at least from my experience, that’s a pretty generic sounding sign off for Friday prayers. We’ve read a lengthy dossier at the Home Office prepared about Sheikh Shady. After Peter Clarke’s investigation. Which officials agree they’re right quote this rhetoric is likely to be heard from imams and mosques around the UK and overseas when they make specific prayers for people affected by wars and other calamities. These words are quote used in a very common prayer uttered by Muslims everywhere. Peter Clarke’s overarching allegation, the big charge that all these other claims fed into. Was that there was too much Islamic influence, a Parkview and other schools that had become failed schools as he puts it in all but name. But it’s totally unclear from clerks report what standards or benchmarks are used to make that assessment. The Department for Education provides pretty clear direction as to how schools should incorporate religious education and collective worship, none of which is referenced in the clerk report. And that may be because of a stunning revelation made during the hearing. Clarks lead educational advisor. The person from the Department for Education who’s supposed to lend expertise about school regulation and management to his inquiry admitted under cross examination that she had never read nor provided Peter Clark any of her own department guidance on religious accommodation in British schools. If she had, Clark might have had to explain in his report how Parkview had run afoul of their requirement that schools should quote aim to provide the opportunity for pupils to worship God, to consider spiritual and moral issues, and to explore their own beliefs. Instead, Clark’s argument that there’s undue Islamic influence in the schools or Islamic influence of the wrong kind is untethered to the statutory guidelines abroad. Free floating subjective critique. It’s basically an opinion. That there’s too much Islam. Peter Clark Marshalls this menagerie of allegations some true some kind of true, some that turned out not to be true to layout. A wider story about East Birmingham schools, a narrative which he interleaves through the allegations that I’d summarize something like this. A lot of these schools were doing pretty well until a bunch of Muslim governors came in and started agitating for changes in line with an extreme Islamic worldview. Their methods and motives were improper. They started taking control at a bunch of schools, and because the complaints and outcomes repeat from school to school, that means these aren’t isolated incidents. They’re connected the school at the epicenter of all this Islamization is Parkview. The person at the epicenter of Parkview. Is to hear alarm. To hear he’s the main villain in Clark’s report, which is not my phrase by the way, as officials with the DF counter extremism unit, we’re working with Peter Clark to put the finishing touches on his report. One of them sent an email we’ve seen, which refers to here and three other Muslim men who worked with them as governors as their quote main villains. You will see Clark published as Spider diagram on me. OK, we actually have that printed out. We’re gonna. We wanted to show it to you and get your take on it. Yeah, I don’t deny any of it. After the list with the terrorist video, turn the page and you’ll see a tiny 90s clip art image of a man who looks white by the way, labeled to hear Alam. There are lines emanating from him in all directions, like a web crisscrossing and connecting between to here and icons of schools and office buildings and other white looking clip art educators with Pakistani names. All individuals and organizations that to hear was associated with this is painted as some kind of some kind of network, but. These are things that are very proud of, Alex says. Here for example, he worked for Birmingham City Council as a governor trainer. Wow, he’s a vice chair of the Association of Muslim Schools. How bad is that? And Birmingham Governors network associate. I was a member of the Birmingham Governors Network for many years, contributing to improving governance across the city. So obviously that’s not maybe good either. Let’s go through it only a few more left Academy governor said. Cheryl Governors Academy. More than a few. But to hear insisted on finishing them. He was a member of the local multifaith organization, Sakhrah. He’d been the chair of education for the Muslim Council of Britain, a big national organization. He was a trustee at the Birmingham Central Mosque, so Peter Clark, with these tons of experience as a terror expert, you know hunting extremists and terrorists down around the country. He’s produced this. It’s basically your CV. It is taken from my CV. It’s possible to hear it provided his resume in an application to the DF some years before, which had this information on it. I submitted all of this, they made it into a spider diagram and using it against me. Amazing when you take all the things that would in a CV be arranged like a resume and arrange them in a spider diagram and it gives a different impression by a police officer by a counterterror official. Yeah, it just has a whole different vibe. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, that’s right, it’s being crafted to give as certain image and the spider diagram is supposed to give an impression as if I’m some kind of criminal. Who has infiltrated all these different organizations? This is supposed to serve the idea of the Trojan horse. This is giving reality to the Trojan horse. There’s a critical fact about to here, in Parkview that Peter Clarke left out of his report a fact that if he had included, it could have thoroughly undercut his entire narrative. Curfew and Tahir Alam we’re taking over other East Birmingham schools because they’ve been asked to by the Department for Education. Few was considered this huge success and there were two other schools nearby that really needed help. And so the whole takeover was authorized and set in motion by the DfE through a program that Michael Gove himself was championing the academies program amazingly. Peter Clark never explains this so you’d be forgiven if you came away from reading his report with the idea that Muslim governors were making these moves illegitimately. If you thought they were scheming under the radar, omissions like this, along with all the allegations. Printed without context or rebuttal, the spider diagrams. It all contributes to a strong impression that Peter Clark did uncover a plot in Birmingham. But when you read the report closely, this is another confounding thing about it. Clark never actually says whether he found a plot or not. He does write quote. The key question is whether what has happened has been an organized plot as described in the Trojan Horse letter, but then he never explicitly answers that question. Yes or no. This obfuscation, which is at the very heart of the report’s findings, led to a telling moment as Peter Clark was testifying in the House of Commons about the Trojan horse affair when a Member of Parliament said to him, do you like just ask Mr. Clark first in relation to some of the evidence that you produced to to demonstrate that there was a plot in particular. Apparently this MP read the report and took away from it plot. Clark had to correct him, tells him I haven’t actually said that I haven’t said. I found a plot coordinated concerted action, yes, plot. To me means something slightly different disease. The MP pauses for a moment, then asks the start of interest. How is that different from concerted action? Well, you can never continuum but one end. There’s a lot of spontaneous things just happen at the other end. You’ve got a group of people, perhaps in a darkened room sitting around a candle deciding to do something in a very furtive way. Somewhere between them you will have people, as I believe we have here, who with a common mindset, common objectives known to each other. Worked in the same organisations, work in the same profession, have shared the objectives and set about achieving those objectives using a set of tactics which are remarkably similar every time they merge. And remarkably similar as it. As it happens, Peter Clark’s report. Rather than clarifying that the Trojan Horse letter was a fake, the plot Unevidenced spun a web of legitimacy around both. To take my cue from Peter Clarke, I want to share some concerns I have about some people with a common mindset who know each other. Have worked in the same organizations, had common objectives and set about achieving those objectives. Two people who fit that description are Peter Clarke and the man who appointed him former education secretary Michael Gove. Those who have known each other for many years. Many through Peter clocks in Filiations, would think tanks that Michael Gove helped establish, which could form their own spider diagram honestly. These think tanks and the politicians and journalists and officials who are part of them have long advocated a view that ultimately made its way into the Conservative government policy agenda that in order to prevent terrorism or authorities have to target so-called non violent extremists, Michael Gove has been pushing this strategy for years. In the past there was an attempt to say that the only way in which we could do with this problem is if we dealt with extremism when it became violent and we waited too late and I think he argues that there’s a pre violent stage. To extremism during which Muslims get drawn into the ideology of Islamism, Islamism is a totalitarian view like communism, like fascism. And in that respect the only way in which one can understand the motivation is if you look at the totalitarian roots of the ideology rather than simply thinking that that Al Qaeda are a National Liberation movement. Like other terrorist organizations, you mentioned the Iraq, the difficulty with this is what many people see as early signs of extremism. The markers of pre violence can be hard to distinguish from the elements of daily life for many Muslims. Deciding to attend mosque more frequently, dressing traditionally grown a beard. Associating with certain Muslim groups like the Muslim Council of Britain. And having a worldview in which our religion and political opinion are intermingled, for instance, identifying with Muslims around the world who are being victimized, criticizing Western powers for oppression abroad or wearing any Cobb which Michael Gove in his book Celsius 77 characterizes as quote, not so much a mark of Islamic faith as a badge of allegiance towards Islamist politics. It marks the Wairarapa as one who has become an internal exile, slightly more poetic I guess than our current Prime Minister. Who called women who cover their faces, letterboxes and bank robbers. Essentially the concept of pre violence puts all Muslims on a spectrum in which we’re all capable of sliding towards violence, and so we all need to be kept under surveillance. This conveyor belt theory of radicalization has been pretty roundly debunked academics and in my 5 in the US Department of Defense former CIA agents have all pointed out that there’s no empirical evidence to support it. Experts who study radicalization haven’t found a single discernible pathway to terrorism and warned that trying to pin down some sort of pattern or ideology can be counterproductive because it’s not proven to work and it can make people feel criminalized and alienated in their own countries. Still, many of the people who shaped counterterror policy. Have held on to this theory Gove Clark the Prime Minister at the time David Cameron, future Prime Minister Theresa May. People in the US 2. By the time the Trojan horse had it came round, Michael Gove had spent years and a lot of political currency investing in his worldview. If you read the clock report with the theory of prevalence in mind. Suddenly makes a lot more sense. Especially when you consider the most damning evidence in the clock report his smoking gun. That’s next. Hiring used to be hard, multiple job sites, stacks of resumes. But today hiring can be easy and you only have to go to one place to get it done. Zip recruiter in fact, 4 out of five employers who post on ZIP recruiter get a quality candidate within the first day. That’s why Ziprecruiter is the number one rated hiring site in the US based on G2 ratings and today. You can try zip recruiter for free at ZIP recruiter Comm serial. That’s zip recruiter Comm serial I’m Anna Martin, the host of the Modern Love podcast. In every episode, we peek into an intimate corner of someones life and learn about what love means to them. 35 years with another person, I’ve never spent that much time with anyone else, so we both kind of said I love you pretty fast as long as they keep the dance up, I’ll keep the dance up and she felt the same way an instant connection. It’s a window into how real people navigate all kinds of love. I mean romantic, family, friendship, dog based, their stories of life. Changing moments, small joys, big revelations. My advice is that it’s OK if it’s hard, a lot of the way that you manifest your love for your children is through cooking, and I remember just looking at them in awe or almost like wow, you know so much that I couldn’t even dream of knowing about my brother, new episodes air every Wednesday. Listen wherever you get your podcasts. It was a group chat. That was Peter Clarke smoking gun. We’ve mentioned it before. It was a men only WhatsApp group that a bunch of Parkview staffers were part of, called the Parkview Brotherhood. Somebody gave Clark a transcript of some 3200 messages from the chat, a years worth, and he devotes a whole chapter to them because he says the messages are proof of the Muslim educators collective mindset. According to clock, most of the messages will maintain about school events, job postings, ideas for assemblies, but among them were texts that he saw as evidence of the ideology these men ascribe to what clock called an intolerant and politicized form of extreme social conservatism that claims to represent and ultimately seeks to control all Muslims. The messages he found concerning included an article about pro European bias in the teaching of world history, a debate about the pros and cons of teaching boys and girls separately. Criticism of the British military and image of the Israeli flag on a roll of toilet paper, skepticism and theorizing about media reporting on terrorist attacks, and a discussion about possibly having students write letters to the government to protest a far right Islamophobic group as part of their citizenship lessons. Alongside those clogged flagged several really offensive messages which if you follow the Trojan horse inquiries at the time, you probably remember hearing about headlines. These are primarily from one teacher who we’ve interviewed for this series as one for us in one exchange. One makes a comment about women belong in the kitchen serving men and another responding to an article about gay marriage, and said these animals are going out full force. Another time, a teacher posted a link about shrine in Pakistan being used as a meeting place for gay men. Several teachers in the chat registered their disapproval, including worse. One who wrote quote the problem of homosexuality is rife in Pakistan. These messages are misogynistic and homophobic, and clearly troubling coming from a teacher. Clark’s report makes mention of staff for some schools who reported that they had to hide their sexuality. If true, that’s awful, obviously. When we asked for one about the messages, he told us the kitchen comment was a joke and that he since changed his views on homosexuality and become an advocate for gay and transgender rights. But after Clark published response comments, a judge found that they went beyond protected religious beliefs and amounted to a breach of professional standards. Whether and how to talk about sexuality and gender in British schools is still an active controversy. In 2019, a progressive news sex Ed curriculum debited at a primary school in East Birmingham and parents lost their minds protesting in large numbers. Their opposition included some ugly homophobic arguments. Some parents even pull their kids out of schools. This isn’t shocking, or at least it shouldn’t be. Many Muslims who adhere to conservative religious interpretation. They hear alarm among them aren’t accepting of LGBTQ people. The same is true about Christians in the UK, only 40% of them support gay marriage. I’m not saying homophobia or sexism doesn’t matter because we’re not the only ones. I’m saying it does matter because we’re not the only ones. These problems require good faith, engagement from leaders, and yet rather than grapple with important issues at hand, here’s what our government did in response to this. WhatsApp messages and the clock report. Other news now in the government is to fast track a tough new crackdown on extremism. It’s a follow up to promises made in the aftermath of the Trojan horse affair in Birmingham and the jailing of extremists once Peter Clark’s report was presented to Parliament by the Department for Education. Politicians said about using it to make sweeping changes to combat prevailing extremism, which could have implications far beyond amrock. Although, as we reported at the time, no evidence of radicalization was ever found. No evidence of violent extremism was ever found. There was no organized. Plot, but this is about the potential for problems in the future. So in a speech in Birmingham today, the Prime Minister compared the threat of extremist Islam to that of Hitler, Communism and the IRA, and in the past, in 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron stood in front of a Birmingham school and invoked the Trojan Horse affair to layout. The rationale for a robust reimagining of the countries counter extremism strategy, we undertook an immediate review when it became apparent that extremists had taken over some of our schools in the so called. Trojan horse scandal here in Birmingham. But I have to be honest here. One year on although we’re making progress, it’s not quick enough. The think tanks made her way. The home secretary at the time, Theresa May, made her own trip to Birmingham to deliver a Trojan horse inspired speech by extremism. Even the queen got on board at the request of the Tories in her own Curt Way. Measures will also be brought forward to promote social cohesion and protect people by tackling extremism. This all culminated in the government expanding their counter extremism policy. It’s called prevent, in a way that we’re still living with today. Citing the Trojan horse affair, the government mandated that public employees would now be obligated to be on the lookout for people exhibiting the early markers of extremism or other behavior they find suspicious. Which means now in Britain, citizens are informing on each of them to the state based on their own judgment about whether an action or comment is extremist. Doctors are informing on their patients workers on their colleagues, teachers on their students. In the years since the Trojan horse affair, we met in 11 year old referred to the prevent program because in response to a question school about what he would do if he came into a lot of money. They would give alms to the oppressed Al Ms, which is miss heard as arms to the oppressed and a four year old who is referred for drawing and illustration of his father with a cooker bomb that was later understood to be a cucumber. We can laugh at all this, except erroneous reports like these can easily follow kids all the way into adulthood that they were flagged to prevent. They remain people of interest. And these are just the crazy incidents that made the news. The program has been found by numerous academics and human rights groups to be discriminatory against us. We referred in hugely disproportionate numbers. As a director of an organization that monitors the program, put it not long ago. Prevent inject suspicion and discrimination deep into the imagination of frontline workers to the detriment of Muslims. We asked Peter Clark, Michael Gove and the Department for Education if they could explain some of the flaws we’ve seen in Peter Clark’s report. In return, the DF sent us a statement saying the Trojan Horse investigation led by Peter Clarke, rightly focused on whether the events and behaviors alleged actually happened and the findings have subsequently been confirmed by a number of independent reports. End Quote. So just for a minute. A word about those other independent reports. 1 The DfE mentioned by the Education Funding Agency was not independent of clerks. The Education Funding Agency was part of the DfE and some of the same people who conducted that inquiry were also part of Peter Clark’s team. Even drafted whole chapters of his report. Another investigation, the DfE cited was by Ofsted, the school inspectors who had downgraded Parkview from the agency’s highest ranking to the absolute lowest. A downgrade that dramatic is nearly unheard of. Ofsted said it was because the school wasn’t doing enough to prevent the possibility of extremism, but a lot of people, including prominent education experts, claimed Ofsted had succumbed to political pressure. Ofsted Chief Inspector was even dragged in front of parliament and grilled about it and lastly, the DfE mentioned Birmingham City Council’s Trojan Horse investigation by Ian Kershaw. Kershaw collaborated closely with Peter Clark. Two they did. Joint interviews, shared evidence and while he did determine that some governors had. Overstepped in pushing for academic and religious changes at their schools. Unlike Clark, he did not allege a sinister, ideological threat when we interviewed Kershaw, he really minimized the whole affair, telling us quote One should not overblow the Trojan horse. Some people say scandal. It wasn’t big enough to be a scandal. End Quote. One of the recommendations Peter Clarke made at the end of his investigation was that the Department for Education should consider taking action against teachers who might have breached professional standards. The DfE did it restricted or outright suspended more than a dozen teachers, mostly from Parkview, with the charge that they had agreed to. The inclusion at the school of a quote undue amount of religious influence, and the department started holding those disciplinary hearings to determine if the teachers should be permanently banned. As we mentioned, the most prominent of the cases was against five of parkview’s leaders. People who had been head teachers and assistant heads in the like, though not to hear alum because he was a volunteer governor, not a teacher. He was just banned outright, and when he appealed, he lost. This hearing, it was the first time the Parkview teachers would get a chance to try to formally clear their names. Arshad Hussain was one of them. You know the initials are dates. I think the hearings were three months ended up going on for 2 1/2 years. They’re making it up as they go along. During this time, Arshad and his colleagues, two of whom, interestingly enough, aren’t Muslim which let themselves to a drab building in Coventry, where the government would argue that they weren’t fit to work in schools. You know you can’t teach. Your hearings are scattered across the two years, so you got a day here day there. He was just horrendous. By this point, the charge against Arshad and his colleagues have been watered down significantly from when the Trojan horse allegations first emerged. As the government attorney said in his opening statement, despite what you may have read or heard, this case is not, and I cannot stress this enough. This case is not about an evil plot to indoctrinate young children in extremist ideologies or anything like it, he said. The Department for Education was not suggesting that the educators were quote malicious or ill willed. It was not suggesting that Parkview hadn’t had great success. What the government was arguing, the attorney said, was that the teachers had failed to respect diversity by going quote too far in inculcating their own vision of the cultural identity. They wish these children to have. An all white panel sat and listened to. All white lawyers argue about this until the case finally concluded in May of 2017, three and a half years after the Trojan Horse letter arrived on Sir Albert Bore’s desk. This essentially marked the end of the Trojan horse affair, and the end was its own magnificent enraging shambles. It was the final hour. The disciplinary panel was drafting its decision, and there’d been this back and forth that had been going on since the beginning of the proceedings about the transcripts of interviews that Peter Clarke’s team had conducted with witnesses from Parkview School. The Parkview teachers had asked for these transcripts repeatedly. They had a right to see them and the whole time the Department for Education is lawyers had said they didn’t have them, that they weren’t relying on those interview transcripts to argue their case. But that wasn’t true. It emerged at the very last minute that the DfE did have them and they had used them to mount their case. The whole time years, the government lawyers have been deliberately withholding crucial evidence from the Parkview teachers, their legal teams, and the panel. The government have been sitting on at least 1600 pages of documents, including the Clark transcripts. When the disciplinary panel learned this on the eve of reading its decision, the panelists demanded that the senior solicitor for the government’s legal team appear in front of them and explain herself. Explain how she’d let this happen. But she didn’t show. She said she had a partners meeting for her law firm that she couldn’t miss. And so the panelists. Discontinued the case. They issued no findings. They were in a new decision which said of the defense lawyers actions quote, there has been an abuse of the process which is of such seriousness that it offends the panel sense of justice and propriety. What has happened has brought the integrity of the process into disrepute. I mean, the whole thing is a blur, Arshad Hussain. Remember sitting in the hearing room as the panel. Read its decision. As they started. You know, pushing in that direction to be so process and hearing is going to be dropped. You know, I started literally getting flushes in in front of my. In front of my eyes, you know, thinking or. This has happened because somebody has withheld evidence the solicitor had withheld the evidence. And she couldn’t come to the hearing because she was on a flight that evening, conveniently. And you know she couldn’t come and answer the questions, whereas we’d been answering questions for two years. You know she, she just wasn’t up to you know, available to answer the questions and explain why this app, why I should’ve done that. You’ve messed how many people lives up and you just kind of bothered to show up. And I don’t know my mind. Just, you know, I don’t know, I just went. You know she just couldn’t cope with it. That somebody had decided to do that you know, for for this amount of time. And yeah, I’m the one sitting here, you know. It’s just so broke down I think. It just felt like you know, you know when you when you step on a beetle on the street or you know you step on an insect and there’s no. You know consequences? There’s no feeling of or what have I done. It’s just yeah, that’s just part of what it is you know, let’s we’ve trampled on on on these people. Yeah, OK, they’ll get through it. Yeah, we haven’t won this one, but let’s just carry on. Eventually, every teacher’s case in the Trojan horse affair, except for one who was not from Parkview, was thrown out because of the government’s lawyers misconduct and their unwillingness to share the underlying material from Peter Clark’s investigation. After all, the drama, the headlines, the investigations, the parliamentary hearings, the banning orders, the million plus pounds spent prosecuting teachers, the new prevent requirements, compelling people to surveil each other. The commandeering of schools in East Birmingham and worsening academic outcomes for students. That was how the Trojan Horse affair ended. It was officially resolution less. Park views teachers weren’t banned, but nor were they vindicated. So that’s what I saw when we finally turned to Peter Clarke report. This investigative document that became the most common response by officials to questions about the Trojan horse that are to not worry about whether the letter was a hoax or not, or where it came from. Because Peter Clark produced a far more reliable document. Well, it turns out that wasn’t true either. The clock report was also in its own ways bogus. After I internalize that conclusion, I experienced a level of dejection that was hard for me to understand. After all this, what I believed to be true when I began this story, that the Trojan horse was Much Ado about nothing. And yet the work of reporting on the Clark report. AKA Britain’s official narrative of the case. Was emptying. Sitting there, I’m surrounded by documents. I struggle to imagine what other group of people you could do this too in Britain and get away with it. Trying to come to terms with how worthless people must think we are. That they’ll be comfortable assembling an official report riddled with errors and mistruths submitting it to Parliament, sharing it with prominent journalists to write articles about or with no expectation that people wouldn’t believe them. More far from repercussions. A number of clocks team including clock. Were promoted after the publication of his inquiry into the Trojan Horse. And then there’s a process by which I derived at this point that being journalism. A field in which was made absolutely clear to me when my awesome letter surfaced. I’m obligated to keep an open mind to be fair with the likes of Peter Clarke and Michael Gove. To consider their perspective, try to understand the choices they made, and even if I’m going to come at them critically. Draining my tone and words so it doesn’t feel like I’m just out to get them in some way. It did not seem like that kind of respect was mutual. I’ve always known that reporting this story is a much different experience for hobza than it is for me. Ever since the beginning when we burst out of Council house after our first interview with Albert Bor, what the fuck was concerning? Tell me, what’s concerning me. This became the subject of an ongoing discussion between the two of us about how you’re supposed to do this work. We go through this step by step kind of side by side. But you are just like unflappable homza, perpetually bewildered as to how I was able to take the things we were encountering and learning in stride. The way I do, I’m not gonna lie to you. I do think about you sometimes. I do wonder how you’re wired really. Sometimes I wake up and I think. I should be like that and that’s how I need to be in order for me to do well in this field and me. Constantly struggling to explain me. And my motivation, what do you do at here in Birmingham? I don’t know. You’re asking me to be introspective in a way that’s difficult. But by the time we were wading through the Clark investigation. The tenor of our debate had changed. I noticed tomsa becoming increasingly bitter about being a journalist. And he started to talk more about how maybe this new field he’d entered wasn’t right for him. Something about the job felt unnatural and he told me he was thinking he might not keep doing it. After this series came out. Which was dispiriting for me, because sure has had done a couple of things during investigation that seemed to me ill advised, but he’s a good journalist. Dog’d, sharp, intuitive, original. He seemed as well suited as anybody for this job. But here’s what I’ve come to realize. Holmes and I were experiencing differently working alongside each other on this story for so long. The Trojan horse. And I don’t mean the Trojan horse letter or the Trojan horse affair. I mean, the idea of the Trojan horse. This idea which infected every aspect of the events we were investigating, the idea that Muslims who are participating in civic life in the West are in actuality using western democratic systems. Duplicitously as a vessel to sneak into societies and countries that are not really their own so they can subvert them. That phrase Trojan horse in reference to Muslims it’s not taboo. It’s perfectly acceptable to use it in the name of official reports submitted to Parliament or as Michael Gove did in Celsius 77, as the title of a chapter in your book about the Muslim threat or in the name of your podcast, it’s acceptable to use it in your campaign for president of the United States. This could be the great Trojan horse of all time because you look at the migration study it. Look at it. Now they’ll start infiltrating with women and children. Donald Trump used the Trojan horse metaphor to speak about Muslims over and over in his run for president. It was part of his stump speech, 10s of thousands of Syrian refugees who probably in many cases not probably who are definitely in many cases ISIS aligned, and we now have them in our country. And where do you see where this is going to be? The Great Trojan horse? This trope of Muslims as a Trojan horse it’s a racist lie. One that strikes me is not dissimilar in its potency and danger. To, for instance, the antisemitic lie about a cabal of Jews nefariously controlling Western institutions that lie. It’s worth noting was also proliferated by a hoax document. The protocols of the Elders of Zion. The canard that Muslims are surreptitiously infiltrating Western countries also shows up in some scary places. White supremacist literature about the so-called replacement theory. White supremacist terrorists like Anders Breivik who killed 77 people in Norway, or the man who massacred 51 people at 2 mosques in New Zealand. They both wrote at length about the threat of Muslims as invaders. In the last few years, governments around the world have drawn on these same bigoted views to justify assault on Muslims. The Uighurs in China, the Rohingya and Myanmar, the terrible treatment of Muslims in India, which seems to be getting worse. the US banning immigration for many majority Muslim countries people are carrying this trauma around. Late last year, a relatively new Muslim member of Parliament, Zarah Sultana, gave a heartbreaking speech about what her time in British politics had been like. Before being elected, I was nervous about being a Muslim woman in the public eye. Growing up, I’d seen the abuse prominent British Muslims were subject to. I knew I wouldn’t be in for an easy ride when young Muslim girls asked me what it’s like. I’d like to say there’s nothing to worry about that they would face the same challenges as their non Muslim friends and colleagues. But Madam Chair, I in chief, I can’t say that because in my short time in Parliament, that’s not my experience. So let me read out a few examples. One person, for example, wrote to me and I quote sultana, you and your Muslim mob are a real danger to humanity. Another wrote, I’m a cancer. Everywhere I go and soon they said Europe will vomit you out. I have discovered that to be a Muslim woman, to be outspoken and to be left wing is to be subject to this barrage of racism and hate. It’s to be treated. By some as if I weren’t enemy of the country that I was born in, as if I don’t belong. Madam Chair, this Islamophobia doesn’t come from a vacuum. It’s not natural or ingrained. It’s taught from the very top. These fires are fanned by people in positions of power and privilege today, our Prime Minister mocks Muslims as letterboxes and bank robbers and far from scrapping prevent earlier this year his government announced who would lead a review of the program. William Shawcross, a man who once said and I quote Europe and Islam, is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems. Of our future, Islamophobia is very real in Britain today. This is what Hangzhou was facing that I wasn’t even thinking about Hamza’s approach and reactions to our investigation. This way his outspokenness his anger, his urgency is sometimes crazed feeling that no matter what we tried in our reporting, it was never enough. It makes every kind of sense you have to stop holding back. Now we have to stop holding back every single opportunity we have to go hard. We pull back, we pull back, we pull back so I don’t care if you think I’m rude I don’t care if you think I’m a dickhead I want you to know. And it makes every kind of sense why this journalistic process, which the way I’d learn to encourage, is a detached standpoint. Give space for all relative sides to weigh in and give their perspectives. But in this instance, with this story repulse Hamza, I’m absolutely sick of this. Maybe we just always been nice. We’ve always been nice, because what if the dominant perspective in a story is one that’s messed with the racism against you with him? I understand I am with you, but also remember we’re in a long game. I’m not listing man, I’m not listening. I have never let myself just be shat on the way I have for a year and a half. Never, never I can sit there and take it. ‘cause I’m a journalist. Fuck that. Fuck this title. Seriously, I’ll throw this title in the fucking river if it means I can just be myself. If I think back to the reasons I got into journalism, if you asked me back then why I was drawn to it? I would have told you I like stories. I want to learn the craft. I’m interested in people. I do distrust authority. I want to hold them accountable. Making a change in the world would have been in there, but not at the top of the list. But Hamza has been clear from the get go about his reason for getting into this work. In fact, aside from that unfortunate paragraph in his letter to Aslam, in which Hamza lists all the people he never believed. Most of what he wrote in that letter amounts to a moving mission statement. If you believe journalism is an evil organ capable of causing great damage, Hamza wrote, then by default you believe that same organ can reach as many people to cause great change. That’s the concept I’ve decided to dedicate my life to. He would pursue this work, he wrote. As a Muslim first and foremost. And as a journalist second. Next on the Trojan Horse affair, officials tell us we’ve gotten a story all wrong so wrong they threatened to go to a judge to gather from talking to you about it, and we realize actually we did miss something. That’s coming up in the detail of the deputies. The Trojan Horse affair is produced by Brian Reed and me, along with Rebecca Lacks. The show is edited by Sarah Koenig. Additional editing by IRA Glass and by contributing editor Aisha manager Siddiqi fact checking in research by Mary Connolly and Ben Flynn. Original school by Thomas Miller with additional music by Matt McGinley and Steven Jackson. Sound design mixing in music supervision by Steven Jackson and fill them off ski at the audio non visual company. Judy Snyder is our executive editor. Neil drumming is managing editor. Supervising producers and they Chubu executive assistant is Alberto Delay on some donnick is an assistant managing editor of the New York Times. Audio is licensed by BBC Motion Gallery. Getty Images and Lola clips I TV archive. Special thanks. Definite Craxy, Faiza Patel, Shaka Tarawa, Andrew folks, Frank Langfitt, clemency wells, Dan Dolan, and Sam Johnston hawk from reprieve. Our Ryan Layla 8 Lodge and Paul Reuest. Some books and articles we found really helpful that we want to mention John Homewood and Teresa Tools countering extremism in British schools as well as against white feminism by Raffi’s area, the Muslim problem. Why we’re wrong about Islam and why it matters by Touseef Khan Michael Gove. A man in a hurry by Owen Bennett. It’s not about the burka. Edited by Merriam Kan shaming me as Muslim schooling and security Trojan horse prevent and racial politics and Samira shackle. He’s in the Guardian Trojan horse. The real story behind the fake Islamic plot to take over schools. Also, British Pakistani boys education and the role of religion in the land of the Trojan horse by Kurama. Iqbal, James Ferguson Albertinia, my country, Medina and Birmingham, Najaf and Brent Biennis Bowen and cut from the same cloth, edited by Sabina Akhtar, the Trojan Horse fan is made by serial productions and the New York Times. Hiring is challenging, but there’s one place you can go where hiring is simple, fast, and smart. That place is Ziprecruiter, Ziprecruiter finds and matches the right candidates with your job. You can also invite your top choices, which encourages them to apply faster. 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