Turkey’s Sunni Muslim Brotherhood Islamist leader, Premier Erdogan , this June could become the country’s first elected Executive President modeled on the US and France. It would give him enormous powers furthering his goal of creating a neo-Ottoman Caliphate. Erdogan’s former ally, Sufi Sheik Muhammed Fethullah Gülen launched a major split in December 2013, after Erdogan banned non-state run preparatory school. This was, aimed squarely at the Gulen academies, a major source of the multi-billion dollar Gulen Movement (GM) global empire. The GM supplies Turkish non-immigrant foreign workers to more than 1,000 private preparatory schools in over 100 countries, including more than 135 Charter schools in 20 states here in the US. The ex-pat Sheik Gulen, a resident alien, occupies a fortified compound in the Poconos Mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania. In retaliation, GM followers in Turkey’s public prosecutors and judiciary launched a series of investigations against Erdogan. The investigations revealed extensive family involvement with funneling funds via Saudi global terrorist financier for Al Qaeda –backed militias in Syria, bribery payments on major construction projects, illicit gold for gas trades with Iran and muzzling free speech with shutdown of Twitter and You Tube. Recent municipal election victories in Turkey in late March have paved the way for changes in the country’s basic Constitutional law enabling Erdogan to seek the new form of Presidency. That could have his AK party extend its power a decade beyond the current 11 year tenure of the Islamist party in Ankara’s parliament.
What we have in Turkey today is a contest between two Islamists. Erdogan, seeking to convert the country into a Caliphate with a onetime election to an executive Presidency, versus, Gulen “the world’s most dangerous Islamist” slowly perfects the same goal.
The GM connection here in the US is of interest, because of the controversy over the movement’s control of dozens of Math and Science academies operating with US taxpayer funding as charter schools. According to one source there are more than 135 Gulen charter schools with an enrollment of 45,000 students in over 20 states in the US. The staffs of these US charter schools are manned by Turkish Gulenists who enter the US under the H-1B visa program. There have been exposes on the US Gulen science academies in Texas and elsewhere published by the New York Times. The Gulen Harmony Schools in Texas received $30 million in grants from the US Department of Education "Race to the Top" program.We posted on an FBI raid of a Gulen science academy in Louisiana. Because of the problems with the Gulen charter schools, many states have either passed or are considering legislation that would control the proportion of H-1B Visa staff employed at Gulen-sponsored charter schools. The Gulen movement charter school program has been supported by the Gates and Walton Family Foundations. The Walton Family Foundation contributed more than $1 million for Gulen schools in California, alone. Former President Bill Clinton has gone on record supporting the GM interfaith dialogue and educational development program in 2008. GM members were alleged to have contributed to Hillary Clinton’s failed Presidential Campaign in 2008.
Gulen’s immigration status came into question in the same year, 2008, in actions brought by the US Department of Homeland Security. Note what the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) reported:
In 2008, negative U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service decisions threatened to deny Gulen’s application for permanent residency. A federal court reversed the rulings after receiving 29 letters on Gulen’s behalf. One of those letters came from [Prof. John] Esposito [of Georgetown University]… after his Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding received donations from the [GM] and sponsored a conference in [Gulen’s] honor.
We noted in a December 2013 Iconoclastpost a report by Christopher Holton on the FBI investigations into Gulen Louisiana charter schools and the efforts by a Texas-based GM charity to stop legislation controlling the influx of Turkish adherents under the H-1B visa program:
The FBI indicated that the raid, which evidently was conducted to gather material evidence in the form of documents and computers, was not a matter of public safety. As a result, it probably was not related to a report earlier this year that a teacher at the school was accused of having inappropriate pictures of children on his cell phone.
Had those charges stuck, that would have been the second scandal of a sexual nature involving a Gulenist school in Louisiana. Abramson Science & Technology Charter School in New Orleans was shut down back in 2011 in the wake of a scandal that started as an investigation into sexual activity involving students at the school and evolved into a possible public bribery investigation. Abramson operated under the same charter organization that Kenilworth operates under: Pelican Educational Foundation.
During the course of the investigation into Abramson, Pelican’s ties to the Gulenist movement were revealed.
[ . . . ]
State Representative Cameron Henry in the 2013 legislative session ... filed a bill that would have limited the number of employees hired by Louisiana state-funded charter schools who were in the country on H-1B visas. Henry’s legislation would have gotten right to the heart of the matter – with a very reasonable restriction that no more than 3.5 percent of the school’s employees be H-1B visa recipients (or 1 in 29), and that the people or groups submitting requests to start charter schools be American citizens.
Unfortunately, Henry’s bill hit hard where it hurt for some powerful, politically connected people in Louisiana. It seems that the number one donor to the Louisiana Republican Party in 2012 was none other than a Gulenist organization out of Texas. Kemal Oksuz, president of the Turquoise Council, a Texas-based group closely related to the Gulenist movement and the Harmony charter schools in that state, donated $83,000 to the state GOP, making him its largest donor during 2012.
Fast forward to the current 2014 legislative session in Baton Rouge and the re-introduction of restrictive legislation aimed at employment of non-immigrant Turkish workers in Louisiana charter schools.
HB 1243 was introduced by Reps. Hodges and Pope, in the Louisiana legislature in late March 2014. The bill’s purposes are to establish conditions for “approval of certain charter school proposals and provides relative to prohibitions on the employment of non-immigrant foreign workers in charter schools, with exceptions.” The bill denies” approval of charter school applications if staff positions with non-immigrant foreign workers unless the charter school plans to take affirmative action to recruit, select, employ, and train non-immigrant foreign workers regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national ancestry, or national origin.” The legislation defines a non immigrant foreign worker as " as an individual who has a visa pursuant to certain provisions of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965’. Further it states that "non-immigrant foreign worker" shall not mean a teacher who spends more than half of his time providing instruction in or teaching a foreign language.”
Similar legislation was introduced in the 2014 Mississippi legislature. HB510 contains similar bars against employment of non-immigrant foreign workers. Section 37-28-47 1. (b) of the, Mississippi Code of 1972, would be amended as follows:
A charter school may not staff positions for teachers, administrators, ancillary support personnel or other employees by utilizing or otherwise relying on non-immigrant foreign worker visa programs. However, a charter school may submit a request to the authorizer for an exception allowing the employment of a non-immigrant foreign worker before the worker is employed. The authorizer may grant permission for the employment of the non-immigrant foreign worker only if the charter school makes a satisfactory showing of efforts to recruit lawful permanent residents of the United States to fill the position and a lack of qualified applicants to fill the position.
In May 2011, we were asked to prepare a presentation to brief the Tennessee House Speaker about the GM charter schools investigations at that time and the purported abuses of the H-1B visa program for non-immigrant foreign workers, see here. In May 2012, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam allowed the law restricting the employment of non immigrant foreign workers for Charter schools approved by the state despite his misgiving and those of the State’s attorney general in an October 2012 opinion indicated that the provisions might be unlawful under the equal protection provisions of the US Fourteenth Amendment. A Knoxville News .com report on the 2012 Tennessee legislation noted its provisions vis vis foreign interests, including funding as well as restriction on employment of non-immigrant foreign workers:
The governor announced on May 2, 2012, that the bill restricting foreign interests in charter schools would go into law without his signature,.
Under the act, which takes effect July 1, 2012, a chartering authority may not approve an application if a school plans to rely on “non-immigrant foreign worker H-1B or J1 visa programs in excess of 3.5 percent of the total number of positions,” if operators of the proposed school have been affiliated with other schools that have been “subjects of investigation by any government agencies for questionable use of non-immigrant foreign worker visa programs,” or if the school is controlled by foreign nationals. Certain provisions of the law do not apply if the chartering authority is a local education agency and the agency itself uses foreign worker visa programs to fill more than 3.5 percent of its staff.
The law also states that charter school applications and renewals shall disclose all sources of private funds and all funds from foreign sources.
The emergence of restrictive employment of non-immigrant foreign workers will take a long time to be adopted by Louisiana and Mississippi, notwithstanding the relatively quick adoption in Tennessee. Given the battles in Turkey between the AK party of Premier Erdogan and former ally Sheik Gulen there will doubtless be intense pressure to place GM Turkish adherents through its global private academy and charter school network.
There is a further compounding factor that should be considered. The attractiveness of investment in private run charter schools to so-called entrepreneurial immigrants under the EB-5 Visa system. In exchange for a $500,000 private investment, the investor receives an immediate green card. Note this Reutersarticle, “The new US visa rush: Build a charter school, get a green card”:
Wealthy individuals from as far away as China, Nigeria, Russia and Australia are spending tens of millions of dollars to build classrooms, libraries, basketball courts and science labs for American charter schools.
In Buffalo, New York, foreign funds paid for the Health Sciences Charter School to renovate a 19th-century orphanage into modern classrooms and computer labs. In Florence, Arizona, overseas investment is expected to finance a sixth campus for the booming chain of American Leadership Academy charter schools.
And in Florida, state business development officials say foreign investment in charter schools is poised to triple next year, to $90 million.
The reason? Under a federal program known as EB-5, wealthy foreigners can in effect buy U.S. immigration visas for themselves and their families by investing at least $500,000 in certain development projects.
The GM has latched on to a good thing in the Charter School system here in the US. It provides a platform for indoctrinating American children in its form of Turkish Islamism supplying employment for GM adherents. The EB-5 system would bolster investment in Charter Schools not only by the GM but also by the Muslim Brotherhood perfecting its form of Da’wah to Somali émigré children. That occurred in Minneapolis with the Muslim American Society control of the Tarek Ibn Zayed Academy subjected to a suit by the Minnesota branch of the ACLU in violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Let’s see if these bills can make it through the Louisiana and Mississippi legislatures in the waning days of the 2014 sessions. Those legislative bills and the Tennessee law are a work in process that other states with GM charter school problems might consider investigating as remedies.
What Tell Mama and Mughal did not tell us at the time, however, was that 57 per cent of its 212 "incidents" took place only online, mainly offensive postings on Twitter and Facebook. They did not say that a further 16 per cent of the 212 reports had not been verified. They forgot to mention that not all the online abuse even originated in Britain. . . there were no attacks on anyone serious enough to require medical treatment. The supposed Bolton attack never happened. . . Far from being “unprecedented,” the spike in attacks was in fact “slightly less” than after 7/7, according to the assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick. Far from being unending, the post-Woolwich spike in anti-Muslim incidents fell to pre-Rigby levels within days. If there was a “sense of endemic fear” in Muslim communities, it was partly created by Fiyaz Mughal himself.
Mr Mughal, as you can imagine, wasn’t best pleased when we reported all this. In a typically bullying campaign, he got his supporters to write round-robin emails to the paper accusing us of behaviour “better suited to the days of 1930s Germany,” wound up to attack us various luminaries who should have known better, and submitted what would became a 10-month, 127-page Press Complaints Commission complaint, full of the same misrepresentation and bluster that characterised his earlier media performances. At one point, he asked to withdraw the complaint – only to reactivate it several months later. This is, apparently, allowed.
Last week he was comprehensively defeated on all points. The PCC ruled that our reporting that Mughal exaggerated the prevalence of anti-Muslim attacks, that he had not had his funding renewed, and that DCLG officials had expressed concern about his methods, was “not inaccurate.”
The article published on April 2, 2014 and titled “The French Trains were on the Wrong Track” occasioned some comments from readers interested in complete historical accuracy that deserve a reply. The article did not discuss the guilt or innocence of the French Société des Chemins de fer (SNCF) in transporting 76,000 Jews, of whom 3,000 returned, from internment camps in France to the border town of Novéant from where they were sent to their deaths in extermination camps.
The article was written after the death of a 93-year-old man living in Maryland who had escaped from a French train deporting him. He had called for compensation to be given the victims or families who had suffered the fate he had escaped. Surely goodness and mercy should have been shown to this man.
Political and complex legal issues concerning SNCF and the “French State” (the Vichy regime) are still with us. As one French historian has said, Vichy is a past that doesn’t pass. Those issues have been reignited during March 2014 by the testimony of a 75-year-old woman named Rosette Goldstein given to the lawmakers of the state of Virginia. She was testifying on behalf of her father who was transported on December 7, 1943 from the internment camp of Drancy, outside of Paris, to Auschwitz. Her point was that compensation should be paid to the deportation victims before SNCF is allowed to compete for state rail contracts in Virginia.
Specifically at issue is the preventing of SNCF, essentially Keolis America of which SNCF owns 70%, from bidding on the $6 billion public-private project, so called Purple Line, to build and run the 16-mile light rail line in Maryland. The general context is acknowledgment of responsibility and eventual compensation for its part in the French participation in the Holocaust before SNCF is allowed to bid.
The French private rail companies had been nationalized in 1938, with the result that 51% of the stock was owned by the state, and 49% by the formerly private companies. Thus the starting point is whether SNCF should be regarded as an agency of the French state or as a public enterprise under government control. The second more important issue is the role of SNCF in relation to the Vichy Government and to Nazi Germany that, after the defeat of the French Third Republic in June 1940, had occupied the northern half of France and after November 1942 the whole country.
At the heart of the issue are the differences of opinion about degrees of collaboration by the French, and public agencies, and their responsibility for actions committed in a complex situation where the southern half of the country was for two years unoccupied. President Jacques Chirac on June 16-17, 1992 said that “France had committed an irreparable act,” fifty years earlier at Vel d’Hiv and that it was time to recognize the errors committed by the government at the time.
SNCF defends its actions in deportations by arguing that the German-French Armistice Agreement of June 22, 1940 left it with no option to exercise autonomy.
Did it in fact have any option other than to obey orders and was coerced into deporting the Jews of France, or was there some latitude for independent action? Was it forced to be a cog in the Nazi extermination machine? The SNCF apologists argue, correctly, that German authorities, particularly Theodor Dannecker, the SS representative in Paris of Adolf Eichmann, did issue orders of the details for French transports. But the independent Report of September 1996 written by Christian Bachelier at the request of the SNCF itself presents a much more qualified picture.
The Report makes clear that the transport of Jews was not organized by the German Occupation authorities who would have reserved train cars on pre-existing convoys or commandeered them from the national company. Rather, it was organized by the SNCF under orders given by the administrative services of the Ministry of the Interior of Vichy. The SNCF participated in the formation, direction, and operation of the convoys. The costs of the transport were billed to the Ministry, supposedly at the rate of a third-class ticket per person, though SNCF denies this particular billing.
Also at issue were the conditions of transport in the convoys of deportation. Some of the windowless freight cars holding 52 people had no food or water, and had inadequate sanitary conditions. It is unlikely that Dannecker or any other Nazi official ordered SNCF to transport Jews in this inhumane fashion. But if he did, why did the SNCF obey?
There are legitimate differences of opinion over the ability of SNCF to act in a more autonomous fashion. The Administrative Court of Toulouse in June 2006 in a case that decided in favor of the plaintiff held that the SNCF transports were a “wrongful act” (faute de service) by the French State and the SNCF. It held that SNCF independence from German coercion in the transports was particularly clear. The state was ordered to pay two-thirds and SNCF one-third of the settlement of 62,000 euros. However, the Bordeaux court of appeals reversed the decision, ruling that SNCF was not liable, because it had acted on government authority. In accepting the SNCH defense, the court did this on the basis of a Vichy decree of October 10, 1943 that made SNCF a limited liability company, subject to certain exemptions from common law. SNCF successfully claimed the courts lacked jurisdiction concerning their actions.
Present heads of SNCF have issued regrets over wartime actions of the company. But they have on legal grounds refused reparations to those who were deported or to their families. Executives of SNCF were not villains nor did they approve of the Holocaust, but the fundamental problem is that the railroads were a vital element in the killing process.
It is true that 2100 men who worked for SNCF were executed for acts of resistance, but they acted as did other French citizens and their actions, though courageous, had nothing to do with their employment by SNCF. The understandable reality is that SNCF was not a profile in courage. The Bachelier report showed that not a single protest against the deportation of Jews ever came from SNCF itself, nor was any train sabotaged. Only one engineer refused to drive a deportation train; he was given only a mild reprimand and did not lose his job. It was the general resistance movement, not the SNCF, that from June 1944 derailed or tried to delay every train from Marseille to Lyons.
The lack of opposition by SNCF is in contrast with the sermons of Monsignor Delay, bishop of Marseilles, who read out and sent a message of sympathy for Jews, and the pastoral letter of Archbishop Saliège of Toulouse on August 3, 1942. Both of these clerics were appalled by the great crime of Vichy, the Vel d’Hiv event (La Grande Rafle) of July 16-17, 1942 in which 13,000 Jews were arrested, 7,000 of whom were put for five days in the ghastly setting of the bicycle arena, sent to Drancy, and then deported, including all the children, by the railroad to their deaths, the first Jews from France to die in Auschwitz.
President François Mitterrand made July 16 a day of national remembrance, but he refused to accept that France should be blamed, because Vichy was “illegal” and not France. The most damning official comment, however, came from François Hollande who on July 16, 2012 spoke of this “crime committed in France by France.” Moreover, the hard and fast truth is that not one German soldier, not one, was mobilized for any of the operation.
SNCF behavior is also in sharp contrast with brave people, such as those of the Musée de l’Homme who produced anti-German and anti-Vichy posters: most of these people were executed.
An often unnoticed striking difference is evident in SNCF behavior. Irrespective of the supposed control of Dannecker, SNCF did try to resist German demands when its economic interests were at stake. This was the case with the replacement of restaurant cars or the repair of railroads tracks damaged from Allied bombing. But there was no resistance to transports of Jews which were then treated as “Ministry of the Interior transfers.”
Recent reports indicate that the French Government, partial owner of Keolis, has begun negotiations with the U.S. State Department over reparations for those American citizens, about 250, who do not meet the French criteria for compensation.
The most desirable reasonable conclusion is for SNCF, even if one accepts it was not directly responsible for participation in the Holocaust, to make a fundamental gesture of reconciliation to offer reparations, either by itself or by supporting such an action by the government. One can understand the desire for complete historical accuracy about behavior in wartime France, and differences of opinion remain on this. But SNCF should not rely on arcane legal arguments, or a directive of the Nazi SS leaders to avoid acts of reconciliation and generosity.
Edmund Burke was right. Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom.
Michael Curtis is author of Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East.
Oberlin College in Ohio already has gone further than UC Santa Barbara, issuing official trigger-warning guidelines for professors that sound almost like a parody of political correctness: "Triggers are not only relevant to sexual misconduct but also to anything that might cause trauma. Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism and other issues of privilege and oppression. Realize that all forms of violence are traumatic."
I'm still not sure what it means. This entry in Wikipedia should help, but still reels the mind.
It has been said that half of the Tunisians want to be French, and the other half Saudis (or possibly Qataris). If the half that wants to be French (all the while indignantly denying that desire, claiming only that it wants to be genuinely Tunisian and not "Islamic") can remain in control, it will be because of such articles as this, a cool analysis by Mezri Haddad, of what has happened in Tunisia since the hysteria that accompanied the revolution boazzizienne in 201l, with his understanding and intelligent praise of bourguibism, that is the view of things held by Habib Bourguiba and the Destour Party, followed by the big crook Ben Ali whose party of one took as its unvoiced slogan enrichissez-vous.
And alliances fall apart and then re-form, as elements of the Free Syrian Army apparently are now allied with the Kurds against ISIL, while not all Kurdish groups in Turkey and Iraq support, with more than words, the Kurdish fight inside Syria.
The Ethiopians -- and other African riparian or lacustrine states (for one part of the Nile begins in the Lakes Region of Uganda and the other in Lake Tana in Ethiopia) -- including Southern Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania Rwanda Burundi, and others all well to the south of the Sixth Cataract in the Sudan-- have a perfect right to now demand their own, s reasonable share of the Nile's -- the Blue Nile, the Whilte Nile -- waters.. The Egyptians appear to believe that the Nile belongs to them alone. They are wrong. Egypt's population is already twice or three times what is -- what's the current word? -- sustainable.'It is Egypt that is insisting that an agreement overseen by a colonial power, Great Britain, in 1929, be honored. What anti-colonialist at The Guardian or on the BBC can acccept that?
Note that the Egyptian candidate, by no means a wild-eyed member of the Ikhwan, simply has to find a way to blame Israel. It is Israel that must be inciting Ethiopia. For why else would the Ethiopian government dare to ask for a share of the Nile waters? Couldn't repeated droughts in Ethiopia have something do with it? And what about other riparian states that are not under Egypt's control, such as the Southern Sudan, and Uganda? Are they, too, puppets of the puppet-master for all seasons, Israel? The conspiracy-theorizing, the Israel-America-West blaming, will end only when those born into Islam begin to see how Islam itself has stunted their mental growth, and made them far more prone than others to such craziness. The ony ones who qualify today are known as apostates. They've left Islam altogether.
They want to monitor preachers who lead Saudi youth astray, mainly by quoting, over and over, from the Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira. And since that is Islam undiluted by practical considerations, by self-interest, by wilful ignorance or deliberate avoidance of what some of those texts say, it is a danger for those Muslims who do not take their Islam straight up. And the Saudi rulers, and those in Egypt, and their courtiers, including journalists, now understand that Islam itself, if taken too seriously by the led-astray young, is a threat not just to Infidels any more. But the Saudis can't quite say this, not now that every word can be overheard by those Infidels.
Arafat's bodyguard is himself responsible for a falsehood here. In listing the three kinds of lies that are permissible, he describes the third one as allowing lying "in politics." it isn't politics, but in making war, that Islam sanctions lying. Why didn't he remember it correctly?
A British doctor responsible for the care of some of the country’s most vulnerable people can today be exposed as a senior leader of a radical Islamist party banned in several countries. Dr Imran Waheed is a consultant psychiatrist at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust, one of the largest of its kind in the country.
He specialises in the treatment of sexual dysfunction, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and obsessive compulsive disorders, and also provides advice to courts in criminal cases on potentially dangerous individuals.
But Dr Waheed is also the spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir, which campaigns for a caliphate ruled by Sharia. Dr Waheed is the group’s chief media adviser and is listed by the organisation as one of its six leading members in Britain. Under a caliphate, men and women would be segregated in public places and women and non-Muslims would be banned from holding positions of power. Alcohol would also be banned, along with same-sex relationships. Critics have said his professional role conflicts with his extreme views on women’s rights, alcohol, and same-sex relationships.
Dr Waheed has called on supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir to undertake “jihad” against Israel and once said he would only condemn the 2005 London bombings if Western leaders criticised what they had done in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dr Waheed’s work leaves him responsible for the mental wellbeing of a huge number of people in the care of Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust, which covers 1.2 million people.
Last year he delivered a talk at the Arab Uprising conference in Manchester in which he urged the adoption of a caliphate form of government, claiming it offered “superior and sophisticated political, economic and social solutions” to contemporary problems.
GCSE and A-level examinations could be brought forward for hundreds of thousands of pupils to avoid a clash with Ramadan under controversial proposals. Teachers and lecturers in England and Wales are pushing for the summer exam timetable to be altered to help Muslim students who will be fasting when they sit papers.
School exam boards and universities are considering the radical shake-up from 2016, when the religious period of Ramadan clashes with the exam season.
One option is to hold some exams earlier within the usual May-June exam season. Another is for fasting Muslim students to be eligible for extra marks under ‘special consideration’ rules if they believe their performance has been affected.
The holy period in the Islamic calendar, which requires Muslims to fast during daylight hours, starts to fall earlier and earlier in the summer from next year, progressively clashing with the exam season in June.
The clash also coincides with Michael Gove’s return to O-level style exams, which are taken at the end of the two-year course rather than at intervals throughout it – making the summer exams the only chance to do well.
This month, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Union (ATL) conference will debate how to ‘minimise the impact’ on Muslim pupils.
Barry Lingard, who is on the ATL executive committee, said: ‘The consequences are quite huge, particularly with the return to three-hour exams at the end of the course in the summer. If some of the big vital exams like English and maths could be rescheduled for before Ramadan kicks in, that would certainly be supported by the majority of teachers.’
Ofqual, the exam watchdog, and the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents the main three exam boards, have met with Muslim groups to discuss the issue.
Chris McGovern, a former head teacher and spokesman for the Campaign for Real Education, said children had been coping with exams for decades in many different circumstances.
‘Where there is scope for some flexibility the exam boards should exercise it, but I don’t think it is realistic for a board to rearrange their timetable to fit in with a minority religion, or any religion for that matter,’ he said. ‘If you run exams in the morning because of this, you may be disadvantaging a non-Muslim pupil who then has two exams in one day rather than one.’
I know teachers who complain that the Easter Holidays (which many now call 'spring break') are never the exact same time each year, unlike Christmas. They moan about a Christian movable feast, yet want to impliment a change to accomodate a practice which constantly rolls according to the moon.
What is there in common between the CIA and Michael J. Morell, its former acting director, and the late Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)? Very little, except that both were involved in misunderstandings about or manipulation of information about events with which they were officially concerned.
Michael Morell, who became acting director after the resignation of David Petraeus, became embroiled in two related controversies concerning the attacks on September 11. 2012 on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. The first is the question of who was responsible for the attacks? The other is the more unsettled one: why was incorrect information, whether it was known to be false or not, about responsibility for the attacks given to Congress and to the American public?
The debate on these two issues has gone on for 18 months. The first issue is now clarified, to the satisfaction of most reasonable people. The event was a preplanned attack carried out by 150 terrorists who were linked to some way to al-Qaeda, and not a spontaneous protest sparked by an obscure video as was once suggested. The issue here is why U.S. officials delayed calling the attack a terrorist attack, and persisted in downplaying the role of terrorists.
The second issue is still not completely resolved, for political or other reasons. The essential problem ranges around the question of who was responsible, deliberately or otherwise, for drafting incorrect or false statements. To her misfortune, Susan Rice, the then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was given those incorrect talking points and repeated on five TV shows in one day that it was the obscure video, not terrorists that had sparked the revolt.
The real nature of the event should have been clear from the start. The email sent, as the attack was occurring, by the CIA Chief of Station in Tripoli to Morell was that the event was “not, not an escalation of protests.” Nevertheless, the initial official narrative of the U.S. intelligence community was that it was a spontaneous protest. It is fair to ask if this was politically motivated in a deliberate attempt to prevent embarrassment of the White House or to limit any damage to the State Department, ultimately responsible for the safety of the diplomats in Benghazi.
Congressional hearings on the matter have not elicited a clear answer to the question: who wrote the original talking points and who altered them for public consumption? Morell admitted he removed the word “Islamic” from the reference to “Islamic militants” who were the guilty party, but it is still unclear who removed references to “al-Qaeda” from the talking points given to Congress. There are conflicting stories. Was it the group of intelligence officers from the Office of Congressional Affairs, or the officials from CIA public affairs, or the FBI?
This dispute over the Benghazi attack bears an uncanny resemblance to a similar event concerning Yasser Arafat. It concerned who was responsible for planning or initiating or causing the Second Palestinian Intifada in September 2000? Was it the PLO leader Arafat who was responsible or was it a spontaneous popular uprising that was caused by the visit of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a few days earlier to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The version proclaimed by the Palestinian Authority is that Sharon’s visit to that Holy Place was the reason for the outbreak of the Intifada that lasted five years, led to suicide bombings against Israeli cities, caused more than a thousand deaths, and delayed any hope of peace negotiations. That narrative is part of the overall revisionist history in the Palestinian Narrative of Victimhood, the story of calamities caused by Israel. Yet the reality is quite different.
Documents and public statements by Palestinians make clear that Yasser Arafat had planned and was determined to mount the violence against Israel after the breakdown of peace talks at the second Camp David summit on July 25, 2000. Instructions to this effect were given to the Palestinian security forces. Arafat had already signaled his intentions in a speech to the Fatah movement in Nablus a month earlier. He said, referring to Arab battles, “We will sacrifice our lives for Palestine. (We) should remember the battle of Karameh, the Beirut Campaign, and the seven years of the (first) Intifada. We are willing to erase everything and start everything afresh.”
A number of statements by individuals close to Arafat describe his decision to launch action by the political and security bodies of the Palestinian Authority. Meetings were held to discuss tactics by the forces controlled by the Authority. A clear statement was made in March 2001 by Imad Falluji , the Minister of Communications of the PA, that Sharon was not responsible but that “It was planned since Arafat’s return from Camp David, and his rejection of President Bill Clinton’s peace proposals.”
Perhaps most telling are the statements, two slightly different versions, by Suha Arafat, widow of Yasser, on TV interviews on November 12, 2011 and again on December 12, 2011 that Arafat had decided to initiate the Intifada. In one version the leader told her to leave “Palestine, because I want to start an intifada.” In the second version she said, “We met in Paris and he asked me to remain there” because “I am going to start an intifada.” Arafat explained he was doing this because “he was asked to betray the Palestinian people, but he was not about to do so.”
Besides the confessions of the unrestrained widow is the bland if surprising statement on June 29, 2010 by Mahmoud Al-Zahar, one of the leaders of Hamas. He stated that Arafat had ordered not only his Fatah forces but also the Hamas movement to carry out military actions against Israel after he believed that negotiations had failed. Al-Zahar differed from Arafat on the rationale for and actions during the Intifada. Arafat had said he wanted to use terror attacks for tactical purposes, to pressure Israel presumably to improve his position in negotiations. The Hamas leader, however, wanted not merely tactical pressure but the attacks to be strategic ones against the State of Israel, euphemism for the elimination of Israel.
In spite of all these assertions about the direct responsibility of Yasser in initiating the Second Intifada, some still persist in the belief that he was simply responding to Israeli provocation. Those who persist are akin to those who propagated the falsehood that a silly video that no one had seen was responsible for a planned attack against U.S. interests by 150 well-armed terrorists in Benghazi. However, the falsehood by Palestinians and their supporters in allocating blame to Sharon is more important than the present differences in Washington over Benghazi. That issue will be resolved politically or otherwise in the not too distant future. By contrast the Palestinian falsehood is still widely believed. Unfortunately, this only contributes to the reluctance of Palestinian leaders to enter the negotiating process.
Michael Curtis is author of Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East.
In his Portraits from Memory, Bertrand Russell ends his brief memoir of Joseph Conrad:
THE GRANGER COLLECTION, NYC
Conrad, I suppose, is in process of being forgotten. But his intense and passionate nobility shines in my memory like a star seen from the bottom of a well. I wish I could make his light shine for others as it shone for me.
Russell was wrong about Conrad’s literary reputation (the critic Richard Curle had already predicted in 1914, ten years before the writer’s death, that “Conrad’s day is at hand and once his sun has risen it will not set”); but he was right about Conrad’s character. That “passionate nobility” shines from everything he wrote, without detracting in the least from its literary quality, as too directly or strongly expressed a moral viewpoint is apt to do.
Conrad’s biographical trajectory was an extraordinary one, even for a writer. He was born in 1857 into the Polish landowning class in the Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire; his father, an aristocratic litterateur who translated Shakespeare into Polish, was exiled for his support of the Polish uprising in favor of independence, and the young Joseph, aged five, went with him. By the time Conrad was 11, both his parents were dead of tuberculosis; he was brought up by an uncle and schooled in Kraków.
In his adolescence, Conrad conceived of the extraordinary idea, for his time and place, of going to sea, for Poland was then landlocked and had no maritime tradition whatever. It was the naval novels of Captain Marryat, for which he always retained his admiration, and those of James Fenimore Cooper, that inspired him in his choice, from which his uncle did everything possible to dissuade him as being unsuitable for a Pole of his social standing. But Conrad insisted, and at age 17 traveled to Marseille, where, already speaking perfect French, he worked on French ships. His French career included an episode in which he was a partner in a failed gun-running voyage to the Carlist rebels in Spain, who sought to replace the reigning Spanish monarch with another.
He was 20 when he joined the British merchant marine, then the largest in the world, learning English in the years thereafter. In his books, Conrad says that sailors (at least of his era) were great readers, and he took Shakespeare and Dickens with him on his long journeys to the Far East. He passed his examinations to qualify as second and first mate, and then master (captain). For many years, he wrote, the red ensign, the flag of the British merchant marine, was his only home. For three years, though, he sailed on the Congo for the Belgians, an experience that a few years later would yield material for one of his most famous stories, “Heart of Darkness,” which he said was only a little exaggerated.
After 1894, partly because of illness, Conrad never went to sea again, except once, near the end of his life, as an ordinary transatlantic passenger to America. He settled down in Kent, in the rural southeast of England, to lead an almost eventless life for the remainder of his days. He described himself as having become a writer almost by accident, without any firm ambition to do so, but this is scarcely credible for a man who would become not only one of the greatest prose stylists in English—his third language—but also one of the greatest novelists of all time.
Anyone who has struggled to express himself not only adequately but with elegance and beauty in a foreign language will be struck with admiration by Conrad’s gift. I take at random (because there are hundreds of other passages I could have chosen by way of illustration) the opening paragraph of his 1902 long short story, “The End of the Tether”:
For a long time after the course of the steamer Sofala had been altered for the land, the low swampy coast had retained its appearance of a mere smudge of darkness beyond a belt of glitter. The sunrays fell violently upon the calm sea—seemed to shatter themselves upon an adamantine surface into sparkling dust, into a dazzling vapour of light that blinded the eye and wearied the brain with its unsteady brightness.
As someone who has spent a number of years in a place where “a dazzling vapour of light . . . blinded the eye and wearied the brain with unsteady brightness,” I can testify that no better description exists, or probably will ever exist, of the phenomenon; but it is worth pausing to reflect upon what qualities went into the making of such a marvelous passage—a passage that is only incidental to the story but written by a man who never wanted anything to leave his hand less perfect than he could make it.
Of course, the writer must have a fine command of English, far beyond that of the vast majority of native speakers of the language. Ford Madox Ford, Conrad’s friend and collaborator, makes an interesting, but not indubitably true, point in Joseph Conrad: A Personal Remembrance, published immediately after Conrad’s death in 1924. He says that Conrad to the end of his life was more comfortable speaking and writing French than English, and actually thought in that language. He therefore had to take special care when composing prose in English, which accounted for its superb quality. In other words, it was Conrad’s lack of mastery that, overcome, gave him his mastery.
Still, linguistic mastery, however obtained, does not account for the magnificence of the passage. Both a cognitive and a moral quality are required to produce it—or rather, two moral qualities. The cognitive quality is the ability to attend closely to a phenomenon such as the sun shining on the sea and to fix the mind upon it—an ability that will, perhaps, be undermined or eliminated altogether by too great a use of electronic media of communication. And the first moral quality is the realization that one should not take such a phenomenon for granted. Not taking the world for granted is part of a philosophy of life (one cannot imagine Lenin, who died in the same year as Conrad, fixing his mind on the effect of sun rays on the sea, for example; he would doubtless have regarded it as inconsequential, almost a betrayal of his mission, to do so).
The second moral quality is a willingness to wrestle with words until they are the best that can be found, a process that Conrad found agonizing. In Conrad’s case, this desire for perfection was not an egotistical wish to show himself superior to others or to secure superficial admiration, but a manifestation of his belief that, as he put it in the preface to Typhoon, it is a writer’s duty “by the power of the written word” to make the reader “hear . . . feel . . . before all . . . see.” Indeed, Conrad’s attitude toward prose was only a special case of his overarching philosophy, which was that of Ecclesiastes:
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
Getting the words right was not, in Conrad’s estimation, the whole task of the writer. He was no artist for art’s own sake; his art was both to engage the reader’s attention and to make him see in more than the mere perceptual sense—to make him see “that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask.” Art, entertainment, and moral purpose were indivisible for Conrad.
In finding something for his hand to do, and doing it with all his might, Conrad always kept morality in view. For Conrad, probity was perhaps the highest good, the moral quality he admired most; for him, very distant goals diluted probity and finally dissolved it utterly. The good that resulted from doing something with all one’s might had therefore to be tangible or immediate, and not so far removed that it entailed or permitted the doing of evil in the name of the eventual good that it would supposedly produce. The risks of distance are shown by the colonialists in “Heart of Darkness” and the revolutionaries in The Secret Agent (and other antirevolutionary books and stories). Kurtz has grand plans for a mission civilisatrice in the depths of the primeval forest that end with decapitated heads impaled on poles; while the principal achievement of the revolutionaries surrounding Verloc in The Secret Agent is the death in an explosion of a half-witted boy, much loved by his sister, revolutionary rhetoric having driven him to a willingness to commit a bomb outrage.
The principal truths for which both the revolutionaries and the colonialists have forgotten to ask are about themselves and about the limits of human possibility. On this matter, Conrad is both clear and, many would say, bleak. In “A Smile of Fortune,” for example, a tale of the hopeless love of a passing ship’s captain for a silent girl living in a remote eastern outpost—a story with a strongly autobiographical flavor—the narrator says:
I felt in my heart that the further one ventures the better one understands how everything in our lives is common, short and empty; that it is in seeking the unknown in our sensations that we discover how mediocre are our attempts and how soon defeated!
Conrad allowed no transcendent meaning, purpose, or design to the universe; there were therefore no ultimate consolations for our earthly travails, except such as we can find for ourselves, and that are inevitably modest. Attempts to transgress those dimensions are intellectually absurd and practically disastrous.
In The Secret Agent, published ten years before the Russian Revolution, revolutionary dreamers and agitators foregather in Verloc’s living quarters behind a grubby shop of semi-pornographic wares in a down-at-the-heels area of London that serves as his front. (Verloc is described vividly as possessing “an air of having wallowed, fully dressed, all day on an unmade bed.”) Michaelis, a middle-aged theorist of revolution who is supported by a rich patroness and is on parole from prison, gives a wonderfully concise précis of Marxist doctrine, a reminder that Conrad was extremely well-informed (his knowledge of history was immense) and had the capacity, instinct, and judgment to distinguish the humanly significant and important from the trivial and the fleeting. Michaelis says:
History is made by men, but they do not make it in their heads. The ideas that are born in their consciousness play an insignificant part in the march of events. History is dominated and determined by the tool and the production—by the force of economic conditions. Capitalism has made socialism. . . . The future is as certain as the past—slavery, feudalism, individualism, collectivism. This is the statement of a law, not an empty prophecy.
Michaelis’s views are reworkings of Marx’s dicta, which would have been little known in Conrad’s day: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please”; “It is not consciousness that determines being, but being that determines consciousness”; “This conception of history depends on our ability to expound the real process of production . . . as the basis of all history”; “What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.”
While Conrad was knowledgeable about Marxist doctrine well before it obtruded itself onto world consciousness, he also had imaginative insight into the psychology of the revolutionaries of his time. None was of the lowest or poorest social stratum; they were educated and semi-educated people who “are enemies of [the] discipline and fatigue” necessary to achieve something in the normal way, who dislike “all kinds of recognized labour.”
Conrad was fully aware of the corrosive effect of poverty and injustice and was therefore no dyed-in-the-wool reactionary without sympathy for the downtrodden. How could he be, when his first memory was of the political exile that worsened his mother’s tuberculosis, accelerating her death from it? But he did not think that resentment, however understandable, was an emotion that should be inflamed or that could lead to anything but destruction. Karl Yundt, one of the revolutionaries in Verloc’s parlor, “took the part of an insolent and venomous evoker of sinister impulses which lurk in the blind envy and exasperated vanity of ignorance, in the suffering and misery of poverty, in all the hopeful and noble illusions of righteous anger, pity and revolt.” Hatred is by far the strongest of political emotions, against which love or the desire for progress is a reed in a tornado. And this is as true of colonialists as it is of revolutionists. In his report for the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs, Kurtz had written: “By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded.” He ended his life proclaiming his desire to “Exterminate all the brutes!” Moral grandiosity is the sovereign path to moral dissolution.
Conrad was attracted to England precisely because he saw the English national character as lacking in moral grandiosity and metaphysical flamboyance. The English people did their duty without the apparent need, or desire, to found it on any philosophical first principles. Of all nations, the English were the most seamanlike, a term of his highest praise. (“This could have happened nowhere but in England,” he begins the long short story “Youth,” “where men and sea interpenetrate, so to speak.”) Especially admirable was the merchant marine, in which ordinary men performed extraordinarily heroic acts as a matter of course and displayed a magnificent but completely stoical endurance.
Even when ships are about to go down with all hands aboard, the discipline remains, the hierarchy holds, the captain is obeyed. In Typhoon, the unimaginative, dull, and stolid Captain MacWhirr steers his ship into a tropical storm of terrible violence, largely because of his refusal to believe that what he has not experienced after so many years at sea can exist. On board his ship are 200 Chinese passengers, for whom he has little personal sympathy and, indeed, feels casual racial disdain. But it is his indomitable will and his unquestioning, metaphysics-free devotion to duty, not any high-flown rhetoric or rodomontade, that saves the day and his passengers’ lives. True, it is the defects of his character that produced the crisis in the first place; but in a universe in which accidents happen and events are not parceled out according to desert, you are better off with a Captain MacWhirr than with, say, a Captain Byron.
The qualities that Conrad admired, on the one hand, and deprecated or despised, on the other, are clear in the contrasting characters of two sailors in The Nigger of the “Narcissus”. In this novel, a ship returning to England from Bombay takes aboard a black sailor named James Wait, who is dying of tuberculosis and is eventually buried at sea. His presence haunts the ship throughout the voyage, which is again beset by a horrific storm. (It is, incidentally, evidence of Conrad’s brilliance as a writer that one can read the lengthy descriptions of the two storms in the above works without any sense of repetition.)
The contrast between the two sailors, Singleton and Donkin, on theNarcissus is stark. Singleton is a strong, silent type; he has been at sea for nearly half a century. He speaks little and is self-contained, devoted to doing his duty. He is principled but not of obviously high intelligence. (There is a slight implausibility in Conrad’s depiction of Singleton, for though he signs for his pay with a mark instead of a signature, he spends much of his off-duty time reading Bulwer Lytton: and it seems unlikely that someone who reads Bulwer Lytton for fun could not sign his name.) Singleton was one of those men
who knew toil, privation, violence, debauchery—but knew not fear, and had no desire of spite in their hearts. Men hard to manage, but easy to inspire; voiceless men—but men enough to scorn in their hearts the sentimental voices that bewailed the hardness of their fate. It was a fate unique and their own; the capacity to bear it appeared to them the privilege of the chosen! Their generation lived inarticulate and indispensable, without knowing the sweetness of affections or the refuge of a home—and died free from the dark menace of a narrow grave.
Conrad’s admiration for men such as Singleton is evident. Donkin, by contrast, is voluble, a barrack-room lawyer, trouble stirrer, and stickler for what he calls “justice.” The description of Donkin as he boards theNarcissus is memorable:
Another new hand—a man with shifty eyes and a yellow hatchet face, who had been listening open-mouthed in the shadow of the midship locker—observed in a squeaky voice:—“Well, it’s a ’omeward trip, anyhow. Bad or good, I can do it on my ’ed—s’long as I get ’ome. And I can look after my rights! I will show ’em!” . . . He looked as if he had known all the degradations and all the furies. He looked as if he had been cuffed, kicked, rolled in the mud; he looked as if he had been scratched, spat upon, pelted with unmentionable filth . . . and he smiled with a sense of security at the faces around. His ears were bending down under the weight of his battered hard hat. The torn tails of his black coat flapped in fringes about the calves of his legs. He unbuttoned the only two buttons that remained and every one saw he had no shirt under it. It was his deserved misfortune that those rags which nobody could possibly be supposed to own looked on him as if they had been stolen. His neck was long and thin; his eyelids were red; rare hairs hung about his jaws; his shoulders were peaked and drooped like the broken wings of a bird; all his left side was caked with mud which showed that he had lately slept in a wet ditch. He had saved his inefficient carcass from violent destruction by running away from an American ship where, in a moment of forgetful folly, he had dared to engage himself; and he had knocked about for a fortnight ashore in the native quarter, cadging for drinks, starving, sleeping on rubbish-heaps, wandering in sunshine: a startling visitor from a world of nightmares. He stood repulsive and smiling in the sudden silence. This clean white forecastle was his refuge; the place where he could be lazy; where he could wallow, and lie and eat—and curse the food he ate; where he could display his talents for shirking work, for cheating, for cadging; where he could find surely some one to wheedle and some one to bully—and where he would be paid for doing all this. They all knew him. Is there a spot on earth where such a man is unknown, an ominous survival testifying to the eternal fitness of lies and impudence? . . . He was the man that cannot steer, that cannot splice, that dodges the work on dark nights; that, aloft, holds on frantically with both arms and legs, and swears at the wind, the sleet, the darkness; the man who curses the sea while others work. The man who is the last out and the first in when all hands are called. The man who can’t do most things and won’t do the rest. The pet of philanthropists and self-seeking landlubbers. The sympathetic and deserving creature that knows all about his rights, but knows nothing of courage, of endurance, and of the unexpressed faith, of the unspoken loyalty that knits together a ship’s company. The independent offspring of the ignoble freedom of the slums full of disdain and hate for the austere servitude of the sea.
It was Conrad’s mistaken romantic belief that, in England at least, the Singletons would always prevail over the Donkins. History has proved him wrong: all that he admired has been defeated, and all that he detested has emerged victorious. The self-seeking landlubbers have won.
Children at one of the state schools taken over by hardline Muslims are being “programmed” and have been “drilled” by their teachers to lie to Ofsted inspectors investigating the plot, according to a parent.
Mohammed Zabar, the father of a 10-year-old girl attending Oldknow Academy in Birmingham, today becomes the first person to speak openly about events at his daughter’s school. The successful non-Muslim head, Bhupinder Kondal, who achieved an Ofsted rating of “outstanding”, has been driven from her post. Four of the six-strong management team have left in the past six months.
“Everything I read in your articles is true,” he said. “The last three or four months have been really difficult. My daughter’s education has been at the back of my mind the whole time. It is important for Muslim parents to say that what is happening is wrong, and to stand up against it. . . "
Mr Zabar spoke out as a former teacher at another school in the city targeted, Park View, told The Sunday Telegraph that he repeatedly witnessed the man who is now effectively Park View’s head giving “mind-blowing” anti-Western assemblies to pupils at the school.
Nigel Sloan, the former head of drama at Park View, said that Mohammed Hussain told pupils in assembly that the Americans were, among other things, “the evil in the world” and “the cause of all famine”. Mr Sloan said: “I heard Mr Hussain say those words. It was always anti-American, anti-Western propaganda. Some of his assemblies were so anti-American in their content as to be mind-blowing.”
Mr Hussain, a maths teacher at the time, is now Park View’s principal, effectively its head teacher. His nominal superior, the school’s respected executive head, Lindsey Clark, has told Ofsted inspectors that she has been marginalised by Mr Hussain and the hardline chairman of governors, Tahir Alam.
Serving staff at Park View have told The Sunday Telegraph and the BBC’s Today programme that a senior teacher there praised the al-Qaeda ideologue, Anwar al-Awlaki, at assemblies. It can also be disclosed that the same senior teacher is a person of interest to West Midlands Police, which have arrested his brother and questioned him about the senior teacher’s comments.
Mr Sloan, now a department head at another school, said: “Park View thought I was too Westernised. I used to talk to the kids about motorbikes and rock music, so they tried to push me out. The kids would tell me that they were being warned against me in the local mosques.”
He said that one day he was approached by a female pupil out of the blue and asked whether she should wear the veil. “I told her I thought that would be a shame, and then that was the sole basis for a trumped-up allegation of racism against me,” he said. “I am 100 per cent sure it was a set-up and that she had been put up to it. . . "
Mr Zabar said his daughter had been told by a teacher at the school to lie to the inspectors if they spoke to her.
“The teacher said all of the stories about the school were untrue and if anyone from Ofsted speaks to you, you have to tell them what we are telling you to say,” he said. “Two weeks ago I asked my daughter about what was happening with the head, and she recited, 'Miss Kondal is off sick at the moment. Her sicknote ends at the end of March and then we will wait and see what happens.’ Those were my daughter’s exact words. It’s not how a child would speak – it’s as if she’d been drilled in exactly what to say. I don’t send her to school to have the teacher brainwash or programme my child.”
Mr Zabar said his daughter, who does not wear a headscarf, “comes back from school saying she’s been told her hair is un-Islamic, or that trousers are not Islamic”. He added: “We as parents are on the ball, we are looking out for the signs [of radicalisation] and we are trying to counter them, but it’s almost like the poor girl is stuck in the middle between us and the school. We’ve tried to protect her as much as possible from it but it’s not fair to her.”
According to staff at Oldknow, the school has been making other preparations to receive the inspectors when they arrive tomorrow. A trip to a synagogue has been hastily arranged and pupils have been ordered to make Easter cards in an attempt to show that the school is not hostile to other faiths. One staff member said the head teacher’s PA, who has close knowledge of the circumstances of Miss Kondal’s departure, was sent home sick last week. The acting head, Jahangir Akbar, has called staff together and explicitly threatened them with dismissal if they talk freely to outsiders, the staff member said.
Mr Zabar said that at a meeting with Mr Akbar and other teachers on Friday afternoon, he and several other Muslim parents raised strong concerns about events at the school, including the anti-Christian chanting in assembly led by Asif Khan, the Arabic teacher. After initially denying his involvement, both Mr Khan and the acting head confirmed it, Mr Zabar said.
“Another Muslim parent asked what had happened about Christmas,” Mr Zabar said. “Mr Akbar said the Christmas festivities didn’t go ahead because the children weren’t getting good enough grades. The parent replied, so why do you take them out in term time to do Umrah [the Muslim lesser pilgrimage to Mecca] then?”
Mr Zabar said the claims of “racism” and “Islamophobia” made by Oldknow and Park View against their critics were “insulting”. He said: “The charge of Islamophobia is sometimes bandied around to deter people from approaching this issue. But there are many Muslim parents raising concerns and this is not about religion. It is about our children receiving a balanced all-round education and giving them what they need to live in British society today. If you want to have a religious education, the schools are there. But I chose to send my child to a non-religious school and by changing it they are denying me that choice. They think that in this society children are corrupt and have been misled. They think they have the duty to substitute their judgment for my duty as a parent.”
Mr Akbar, Oldknow’s acting head, denied that any children had been drilled or that staff had been threatened.
In an angry 10-minute tirade, he accused The Sunday Telegraph of a “hate campaign” and said: “I’ll give you a hundred parents, two hundred parents, why are you speaking to one parent? The parents’ meeting was the best meeting we’ve ever had. Why weren’t you there, you idiot? Why weren’t you there, you t---? Why are you a racist?”