AMS UK response to article in the Telegraph on 14 June 2015
The Association of Muslim Schools UK (AMS UK) issues a rejoinder to claims made against it in an article by Andrew Gilligan in The Telegraph on the 14th June 2015. The Association was not asked for comment by Mr. Gilligan or the Telegraph. The article was riddled with factual errors and misleading claims.
The Bridge Schools Inspectorate (BSI) is independent of AMS UK and is not ‘co-controlled’ by the Association as Gilligan claims. Whilst BSI is free to defend its own record, it should also be noted that BSI is under the regulatory authority of the Department for Education and Ofsted. Ofsted is at liberty to inspect any BSI school, and any AMS UK member school, at any time, under Section 8 of the Education Act 2005 and regularly exercises this legal responsibility. Furthermore, lead BSI inspectors are appointed with Ofsted approval and the inspections of Muslim schools by BSI have always been overseen by Chief Inspector Meg Buckingham, a vastly experienced and well-respected ex-HMI. In addition, there is no suggestion from BSI that it is closing down for any reason other than staffing pressures.
There were further claims which are completely incorrect.
1. There is no record of a “Deobandi School” in Birmingham or elsewhere, past or present.
2. Ibrahim Hewitt and Tahir Alam are not BSI inspectors.
3. There is no record of the views attributed to Mohamed Mukadam, Ibrahim Hewitt and Akram Khan-Cheema.
A spokesperson for the Association of Muslim Schools commented:
“The article displayed a blatant disregard for basic journalistic ethics. It is incomprehensible that such a package of untruths and anti-Islamic fantasies is allowed to be published. The newspaper must take full responsibility for not substantiating Mr Gilligan’s outrageous claims. This is not the first time Mr Gilligan has stretched the truth in his efforts to promote his antipathy for the Muslim community and any Muslim organisation informed by faith-based values, seeking to identify all religiously conservative Muslims with the views of radical extremists and with the rejection of British values. His attempts to do so are a distortion of the facts and are Nazi-like scaremongering that one would have hoped that all in the enlightened world had turned their backs on. The Telegraph must understand that by allowing such articles to be printed, they are promoting religious intolerance and seriously damaging the very real and sincere efforts by the Muslim community to fight extremism, by pushing its members into the voiceless margins of society to be attacked with impunity.”