Children who took Easter eggs to class allegedly had them confiscated by “Muslim morality squads” patrolling a school in Birmingham, England, according to press reports.
The school is at the center of an investigation into claims Islamic hardliners are attempting to infiltrate and run secular state schools in the city.
The mother of one of the students — who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals — told the Daily Express that groups of older students were taking the eggs from younger children and teachers were ignoring their actions.
“My daughter tried to bring in an Easter egg for a friend and one boy grabbed it and smashed it against a wall,” she said.
“Another girl of about 11 brought in a little Easter bunny toy that she wanted to show her friends. They grabbed that off her too. All talk of Christmas and other non-Muslim festivals is banned. The teachers just turn a blind eye to it.”
She added, “Older boys are going round in these morality squads telling off girls if they do not wear veils.”
At least six schools in the city have been implicated in a “Trojan Horse” plot by extremists to “Islamize” secular state education. This has included illegal segregation of students according to sex and discrimination against non-Muslims.
Up to 20 more schools are also under investigation.
A local Labour MP, Khalid Mahmood, said a small group of individuals was trying to change the ethos of schools by stealth.
On Monday, Jack Straw, a former Labour Cabinet minister, said schools, even if they were mostly Muslim, had to respect British values.
“We have to accept and the schools with a majority of Muslim parents have to accept — as they do if they are Hindu, Sikh, Jewish or Christian — that we also live within the United Kingdom,” Mr Straw told the BBC.
“Alongside values that are religiously based, there has to be a clear understanding that this is the U.K., and there are a set of values, that are indeed Christian based, which permeate our sense of citizenship.”
‘Alongside values that are religiously based, there has to be a clear understanding that this is the U.K., and there are a set of values, that are indeed Christian based’
He said segregating boys and girls was not acceptable.
The Islamicization allegations started circulating about two months ago and are the subject of a criminal investigation by West Midlands Police.
Michael Wilshaw, chief of the Office for Standards in Education, is also heading an inquiry and will report to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary. This could lead to governors at the offending schools being removed from their posts.
Mr. Gove has also appointed Peter Clarke, the former head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, to investigate the intimidation claims.
Matthew Lloyd/Getty ImagesEducation Secretary Michael Gove
“Wider, more comprehensive action is needed,” he said. “These allegations need either to be substantiated and firm action taken, or to be shown to be baseless.”
Tahir Alam, the hardline Muslim Council of Britain activist accused of being the “Trojan Horse” plot’s ringleader, denies any involvement, calling the investigations a “witch-hunt” and “fabrication.”
Mr. Clarke’s appointment is also being criticized by local politicians.
“If you bring someone in badged counter-terrorism then the interpretation of the situation is pretty obvious,” Albert Bore, chairman of the local city council, told The Birmingham Post newspaper.
“The big Muslim community out there in Birmingham are going to feel a little uneasy that the person that Michael Gove has brought in is a counter terrorist expert and not from an education background.”
Birmingham City Council confirmed Monday it was investigating 25 schools and a former school principal, Ian Kershaw, has been appointed as its own chief advisor.
For his part, Chris Sims, the chief constable of West Midlands Police, described the appointment of Mr. Clarke as “desperately unfortunate.”
It would “inevitably draw unwarranted conclusions from his former role as national co-ordinator for counter terrorism,” he added.