An alleged plot by Muslim extremists to subvert state schools in Birmingham, England and run them according to a rigid interpretation of Islam has angered members of the British Parliament.
A purported letter which surfaced in March detailed a plot to take over the schools, using dirty tricks to drive out headmasters and replace their staffs with people who supported the plot. Britain's Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) is investigating the rumored plot and plans to release a report in May.
Khalid Mahmoud, a Muslim Labour MP who represents Birmingham charged that "a small group of individuals" was trying to change the ethos of the schools under the cloak of secrecy. Mahmoud also claimed that that radical Salafists were attempting to impose their views on the majority of the city's Muslims.
A mother of one student who attends an affected school told the Daily Express newspaper that her daughter had been harassed by older boys who were denouncing girls who refused to wear veils and stay separate from the boys.
"My daughter tried to bring in an Easter egg for a friend and one boy grabbed it and smashed it against a wall," the mother said. "Another girl of about 11 brought in a little Easter bunny toy that she wanted to show her friends. They grabbed that off her too."
Such reports disturbed former British Foreign Minister Jack Straw, who said Muslim school leaders "must respect British values." He denounced what he called an effort to proselytize Islam in "an exclusive way and claim that those who are not of the Muslim faith are infidel and have fewer rights."
The Park View Educational Trust that runs the schools that have come under scrutiny said the reports have generated hate mail and were "causing unwarranted and unnecessary alarm" among affected families.
A senior source with the U.K.'s Department of Education told the Sunday Telegraph that an "overlapping web of connections" has been discovered and that the driving force appeared to be "explicitly Islamist."
The Ofsted reports are likely to result in Alam's ouster as chairman of the Park View Educational Trust and as chairman of Park View Academy – one of the affected schools, according to the Telegraph.
A separate Department of Education report found that girls at Park View and Golden Hillock, a sister school, were forced to sit in the back of the class, while five Christian students in a high school level religion class at Golden Hillock were left to "teach themselves." An al-Qaida supporter was invited to speak at Park View.
Members of Birmingham's city council were informed of these problems in six months ago but took no action until the letter became public.