An alleged “takeover” of several British schools by radical Muslims caused a scandal in the UK, though the worst of the allegations have since proved unfounded. News outlets like the NYT were largely dismissive of the claims and attributed the investigation to a witch hunt by former Education Secretary Michael Gove, but now it seems the Grey Lady has come around to the idea that there may be something to this controversy. From its most recent article on the investigation:
Islamic hard-liners had gained influence on school boards, he said, “installing sympathetic head teachers or senior members of staff, appointing like-minded people to key positions, and seeking to remove head teachers who they do not feel to be sufficiently compliant with their agenda.”
Among the concerns highlighted in the report were calls to Friday Prayer broadcast over loudspeakers that were apparently stopped during a school inspection and complaints that female members of staff were not treated equally.
Somewhat buried in the story, we find this:
The schools’ actions and attitudes are worrisome but probably not dangerous; as Clarke said, there is no evidence that the schools promoted violence or terrorism. An Islamophobic panic would be an inappropriate response to stories of this kind, either in the UK or in the United States (where interfaith relations are, on the whole, much better, and where Muslims have had more success entering mainstream society). So would a willful blindness to the existence of what can, without careful and thoughtful action, become a serious problem.If this story is any indication, writers and editors at the NYT are coming to realize that a careful and openminded approach leads to a more accurate and useful view of this issue than blind, lockstep PC denial. Good. In the end, among the greatest victims of radicals and their attempted school takeovers are the millions of Muslims seeking to be true to their faith and values and to raise intelligent, believing children able to honor their vision of God while taking their place in a pluralist society.