Socialist Worker

Oldham 'Trojan Horse' claims boost racist agenda

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2541

Protesting in Birmingham against the Trojan Horse smears

Protesting in Birmingham against the Trojan Horse smears in 2014 (Pic: Pete Jackson)


A racist witch hunt is underway in Oldham, Greater Manchester. The Sunday Times has claimed that Muslims there are trying to take over state schools in a new “Trojan Horse plot”.

This refers to previous allegations involving schools in Birmingham in 2014.

The new claims are largely based on claims by one head teacher. Trish O’Donnell, head of Clarksfield Primary School, apparently told the council she had been subject to “death threats” and “aggressive verbal abuse”.

She told the council that she believed a “Trojan Horse” agenda was “being played out”.

The council’s report into these claims found “no basis to the ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations”. There was no evidence for the claims in Birmingham, either.

Former counter-terrorism chief Peter Clarke investigated the claims. His report tried to paint Muslims as imposing their religion on others. What it actually revealed is that the schools under investigation were open to other faiths.

For instance, he claimed a parent at Adderley primary school pushed over a Christmas tree. He said some parents withdrew their children while a Hanukkah display was in reception.

The fact that the school marked Christmas and Hanukkah seemed lost on him.

Evidence

The report contained no evidence of a plot. It found evidence of people being “associated with each other” who “espouse, endorse or fail to challenge extremist views”. But for Clarke criticising Israel or opposing British military operations are extremist views.

Clarke concluded that he found no evidence of “terrorism, radicalisation or violent extremism in the schools of concern in Birmingham”.

A separate report by Birmingham City Council found “little evidence of a systematic plot or coordinated plan”. It said, “There is no evidence of a conspiracy to promote an anti-British agenda, violent extremism or radicalisation of schools.”

But this hasn’t stopped the press promoting its own version of events. The Sunday Times bragged, “Operation Trojan Horse, a plot by Islamic extremists to take over state schools in Birmingham, was exposed by a Sunday Times investigation.”

One Daily Mirror story on the Oldham claims illustrated it with a picture of a Birmingham school. The caption read, “Park View School in Birmingham was one of the schools that was infiltrated.”

The attacks on Muslims in Oldham hand the Tories another excuse to “intervene” in schools – and force more to become privately-run academies.

They are part of a wider Islamophobic agenda that socialists should oppose.


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