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The Trojan Horse files: On the eve of an explosive report into claims of a plot by Islamic extremists to take over schools, we investigate the man accused of being the mastermind

By GUY ADAMS and SUE REID

Filled with endless pictures of smiling children, the ‘information and guidance’ booklet must have looked anodyne when it tumbled off the press a few years ago.

It was produced by the Muslim Council of Britain and contained — in the words of the foreword — 72 pages of advice to schools designed to ‘promote greater understanding of the faith, religious and cultural needs’ of pupils from an Islamic background.

Even the title seemed, on the face of things, uncontroversial. It was called simply: Meeting The Needs Of Muslim Pupils In State Schools.

Controversy: Tahir Alam is the alleged mastermind of a plot by Islamic extremists to take over schools. The 45-year-old can be revealed as the author of a controversial 2007 booklet about teaching Muslim pupils

Controversy: Tahir Alam is the alleged mastermind of a plot by Islamic extremists to take over schools. The 45-year-old can be revealed as the author of a controversial 2007 booklet about teaching Muslim pupils

Appearances can be deceptive, though. For within days of its publication, this outwardly unremarkable booklet had sparked an explosive political controversy.

For, in the eyes of a host of vociferous critics, it amounted to nothing less than a blueprint for the ‘Islamicisation’ of Britain’s entire education system.

To that end, it called for sweeping changes in the way everything from music, art and sports, to biology and religious education were taught in schools.

One passage endorsed a ban on ‘unIslamic’ activities, such as dancing, for Muslim pupils.

Another said swimming lessons should be halted during Ramadan, because ‘the potential for swallowing water [when fasting] is very high’. A third, regarding behavioural codes, declared that ‘girlfriend/boyfriend as well as homosexual relationships’ are ‘not acceptable practices according to Islamic teachings’.

The booklet issued hawkish decrees on everything from architecture — it called for single-sex prayer rooms to be built at every school — to extra-curricular activities. School balls, discos  and fashion shows should be avoided so as not to ‘inadvertently exclude’ Muslim parents and pupils, it cautioned.

Divisive: The 2007 booklet co-authored by Tahir Alam faced wide criticism when it was released

Divisive: The 2007 booklet co-authored by Tahir Alam faced wide criticism when it was released

 

So, too, should fund-raising raffles, since gambling is forbidden by the Koran, Islam’s holy book.

At meal-times, meanwhile, it said children should be offered halal food, sourced from animals killed without first being stunned — the most ‘pure’ form of religious slaughter, dubbed cruel by animal welfare campaigners.

During biology lessons, many aspects of sex education, including teaching about contraception and the use of diagrams showing reproductive organs, would be regarded by Muslims as ‘completely inappropriate and encouraging morally unacceptable behaviour’.

In drama, Nativity plays were off-limits for Muslim pupils, while ‘parents may have reservations regarding participation in [any] theatrical plays or acting that involves physical contact between males and females’.

Art teachers, it added, ‘should avoid encouraging Muslim pupils from producing three-dimensional imagery of humans’, since that is also outlawed by the Koran.

‘Some Muslims may hold a very conservative attitude towards music and may seek to avoid it altogether,’ read a passage on music lessons.

‘Most Muslim parents will find little or no educational merit or value in dance or dancing after early childhood and may even find it objectionable.’ As for PE, the booklet said Muslim girls should wear full-length tracksuits and headscarves when taking part in even highly vigorous exercise, while teachers must avoid the ‘objectionable’ practice of allowing mixed-gender groups to play contact sports such as football or basketball.

Mixed-gender swimming sessions, even for primary school children, were ‘unacceptable for reasons of modesty and decency to Muslim parents’.

Finally, the booklet argued that all British children should have the option of studying Arabic, while staff should consider segregating morning assembly, with ‘separate acts of collective worship’ for Muslim and Christian  students.

If you think some of that advice sounds divisive and extreme, not to say at odds with traditionally British educational values, you are not alone. For the contents of Meeting The Needs Of Muslim Pupils In State Schools sparked immediate controversy….

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