The Association of Muslim Schools UK (AMS UK) condemns the Daily Star and Daily Express for their lack of journalistic responsibility in articles published on their respective websites on Sunday 31 January, and, if the subject matter was not so serious, would deem them to be bordering on the absurd. The articles both contain unsourced claims and allegations stating MI5 has recruited teachers to spy on Muslim schools for evidence of radicalisation. These claims and allegations are unsubstantiated and without foundation.
These stories are being used to justify unproven and potentially libellous reports that children are at risk in Muslim schools, despite no reports or evidence to verify any of these allegations. It must also be added that Muslim schools, like all schools, are registered with the Department for Education and are subject to Ofsted inspections who have recently updated their framework to scrutinise any issues that could affect child safeguarding, particularly in regards to radicalisation. No Muslim school or their staff members have ever been found to be promoting or participating in any form of extremism.
An AMS UK spokesperson added, “The message of anti-extremism and living peacefully with neighbours, regardless of faith, resonates deeply within Muslims. There are numerous examples in the Qu’ran about positively engaging with communities and it is our schools that lead the way in not only denouncing and discouraging extremism but in practicing the peaceful message of Islam. We would urge anyone with any doubts about Muslim schools to visit one. If there is any type of institute that will prevent the radicalisation of young people, it is a Muslim school.”
The papers, in an attempt to give credence to these allegations, has put forward the case of the three girls from Bethnal Green Academy who fled to Syria, along with their photographs. This case is being highlighted as an example of children being radicalised despite the fact Bethnal Green Academy is not a Muslim school. On the contrary, Bethnal Green Academy is a state-funded mainstream school.
Both newspapers have therefore published a wholly unsubstantiated story about Muslim schools being spied on to give the respective writers ground to make deplorably dishonest claims and conflate Muslim schools with an unrelated case involving another non-Muslim school to justify the false allegations.