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U.K. probes Islamist ‘plot’ to radicalize schools

  • Children take part in a religious procession to mark Palm Sunday in St. Petersburg April 13, 2014. (REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk)

LONDON: Britain sent its former counter-terror chief to investigate an alleged Islamist plot to take over schools in the second city of Birmingham Tuesday.

The Department for Education has appointed Peter Clarke, who headed the police investigation into the July 7, 2005 London bombings and is the former head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, to conduct the probe.

Clarke will “analyse evidence of extremist infiltration” in Birmingham schools, the DfE said.

However, the appointment drew criticism from the local police chief, who said people would inevitably draw “unwarranted conclusions.”

Concerns first emerged last year after the leak of an anonymous letter outlining how to implement what it called Operation Trojan Horse – a takeover of schools by hard-line Muslims.

The letter, which credited the operation with forcing a change of leadership at four schools, gave instructions on ousting and replacing uncooperative headteachers and school governors.

“I am extremely concerned by the allegations made in connection to a number of schools in Birmingham,” Education Secretary Michael Gove said.

“No pupils should be exposed to extremist views or radicalization while at school.” Gove added.

Gove has already sent inspectors to some 15 schools, while Birmingham City Council is investigating anothr 25, having received over 200 complaints.

Since the letter emerged, whistleblowers including former staff have come forward, claiming that boys and girls had been segregated in classrooms and assemblies, sex education was banned and non-Muslim staff were bullied.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 16, 2014, on page 11.
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Summary

Britain sent its former counter-terror chief to investigate an alleged Islamist plot to take over schools in the second city of Birmingham Tuesday.

The letter, which credited the operation with forcing a change of leadership at four schools, gave instructions on ousting and replacing uncooperative headteachers and school governors.

Gove has already sent inspectors to some 15 schools, while Birmingham City Council is investigating anothr 25, having received over 200 complaints.


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