A recent ruling to ban gender segregation in faith schools is hypocritical and steeped in the hate-filled neo-conservative agenda to make conditions harder for Muslims “across the board”. But it will also affect other faith groups and is a call to action for us all.  

Recently, the court of appeal ruled that a co-educational Islamic school in Birmingham, Al-Hijrah school, a voluntary-aided mixed-sex state school, could no longer separate boys and girls. This confusing ruling has called into question the neutrality of the court as it adversely affects Muslims by holding them to a unique standard.

It also exemplifies how PREVENT is being imported into the judicial system and it entrenches Ofsted’s role as an increasingly intrusive “regulator” that acts as an ideological henchman for the state.

A judgment steeped in hypocrisy which targets Islam

The ruling has attracted much commentary. However, it is important to focus on the actual judgment before addressing the deteriorating state of government institutions.

The judgment comprises the views of three judges, with the third Gloster LJ (Dame Elizabeth Gloster) approvingly referencing and citing the Casey Review, a highly problematic review  for its anti-Islamic bias.

The arguments in the judgment assert that because a boy pupil can mix with other boy pupils but a girl cannot and vice versa, there is discrimination for each individual pupil on the grounds of sex.

This is highly hypocritical given the fact that all three judges attended elite single sex schools, and also problematic in light of the school’s insistence, with evidence, that it operated a “separate but equal” policy.

If this is the case, then why does this argument not apply to two single-sex schools – one boys and one girls – which discriminate on the basis of sex at the point of enrolment despite being under the regulatory auspices of Ofsted? Why does the court, Gloster LJ, and the pro-PREVENT interveners in this case refuse to consider this blatant contradiction?

Read more: PREVENT is about Policing Dissent not Safeguarding

The judges also determine “less favourable” treatment on the basis of Ofsted’s ideological agenda. Its findings were based on responses from a few pupils, which were then arbitrarily extrapolated to the general practice of segregation within the school. This approach can indeed be taken with single-sex schools too and yet again, this point is of little concern for the likes of Ofsted and the Equality Commission.

According to a report in the Guardian, “the school’s lawyers argued in court that the segregation was one of its defining characteristics. They said the policy was clear to parents who wished to send their children there and to previous Ofsted inspectors, who had never raised it as a concern”. In other words, teachers and parents (and even previous Ofsted inspectors!) saw this policy as being in the best interests of the children.

The influence of pro-PREVENT organisations whose aim it is to enforce the prevailing hierarchy

It is obvious that this judgment specifically targets Islam, although it will also adversely affect Jewish schools. This is not surprising when one takes a closer look at the background of those involved in this case – they are against religion. Islam in the current global climate is an easy target, and they are supported by the anti-Muslim bias of the tabloid press and their associated mob.

Gloster LJ mentions that she finds interventions by Inspire and Southall Black Sisters as “instructive” in the case. The fact that the opinions of these groups are being used as a guideline by top judges shows that the judiciary in Britain is becoming politicised by groups whose agendas are far from independent, while Muslim and even Jewish religious experts were not consulted at all.

Inspire is dedicated to promoting and defending discriminatory, academically baseless policy of PREVENT, a policy which allows power structures to coerce and bully minorities. Inspire has also received funding in the past from the Home Office for projecting black propaganda to Muslims in the UK in order to bring about a state-approved version of Islam.

Read more: Failing to understand hate, Hope not Hate becomes platform for Home Office propaganda

It is rich of Southall Black Sisters to intervene in a case concerning Muslims, whilst its founder Gita Sahgal seeks to restrict the rights of Muslim women to choose they way they dress, and how they conduct themselves in relation to men. Sahgal is a close associate of Maryam Namazie who has also expressed hateful views and called for a ban on hijab.

The Casey Review and the fingerprints of the neo-conservative hate network

But there is even more to this judgment than meets the eye. In order to enforce this aggressive secular view, these interveners and Gloster LJ assert that girls suffer greater detriment though segregation. Gloster LJ does this by relying on what the majority judges call “an objective inference” from the “entirety of evidence”.  

Among this evidence is the Casey Review. The Casey Review is far from objective, however.  It internalises PREVENT logic and Louise Casey herself is not known for evidence-based policy. Her previous reports have been criticised by academics for a “lack of rigour and transparency in the methods used to gather and analyse data”.

More worryingly, the Casey Review was heavily influenced by the neoconservative hate network.  The Review references David Goodhart’s disturbing book The British Dream. Goodhart was formerly on the advisory council of notorious neoconservative Douglas Murray’s Centre for Social Cohesion, which later joined with the Henry Jackson Society.  

He was also listed among those on the advisory board of the Quilliam Foundation in 2010.  He now is a member of the advisory for Demos and currently heads the Demography, Immigration and Integration unit of Michael Gove’s notorious neoconservative think-tank, Policy Exchange. Notably, all three sources are referenced in the Casey Review.

Other think-tanks referenced in the Casey Review include another neoconservative group called Civitas and in particular, a report by the author David MacEoin. MacEoin said that he has “very negative feelings” about Islam. MacEoin has also authored several articles on the neoconservative propaganda website Gatestone Institute. Gatestone has been described as “one of the most important hubs in America’s Islamophobia industry, pumping out reams of dangerous anti-Muslim propaganda of the kind lapped up by far-right mass murderer Anders Breivik.”

The Gloster LJ opinion demonstrates an alarming lurch towards neoconservative thinking in the judiciary. The citing of the Casey Review and its neo-conservative links should be more vigorously interrogated and exposed.

Read more: Legalising Islamophobia is a growing international trend

Ofsted, Amanda Spielman and Michael Gove

Questions only increase when it comes to Ofsted’s new head, Amanda Spielman, who is not without controversy. She was heavily criticised by the Education Select Committee in her pre-appointment questions for lacking passion and understanding for her role as well as teaching experience.

The Committee concluded that “Amanda Spielman was not prepared for the vast scope and complexity of this important role.” However, this advice was ignored and Nicky Morgan appointed Spielman anyway.

It is pertinent to note that Morgan’s tenure as secretary of state for education was mired by the revelation that her department was still being “back-seat” driven by warmongering, anti-Islam neoconservative Michael Gove and his allies. Spielman’s connection to the neocon does not end here. In fact she has a lengthy working relationship with him.

In 2011, Michael Gove and his then special advisor Dominic Cummings were exposed for their close links to a charity called the New Schools Network (NSN). Spielman was a trustee at the NSN, which was set up to provide advice and guidance to set up independent state-funded schools. It has several links to the Conservative Party. Spielman was also a member of the Sykes review group set up by Gove to review the school assessment system.

Not only was Spielman part of Gove’s agenda here, but she was research and development director of the academy operator. ARK was deeply implicated in the 2014 Trojan Horse scandal.

‘Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board’

The ruling reflects how the neo-conservative lobby is exerting influence on top judges and the legal system to comply with Douglas Murray’s 2006 goal: “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board”.

It is yet more evidence of how this hate-driven network is infiltrating all aspects of public life with its warped ‘War on Terror’ values, among them a support for structural oppression and torture – something CAGE has been warning about for years and in particular warned about in the wake of our victory over the Charity Commission and failed efforts by William Shawcross, a colleague of Murray, to shut us down.

The trickling down of these values into public life in Britain and their threat to the rule of law is something that we will continue to speak up against despite being maligned for doing so.

Read more: CAGE court victory exposes Charity Commission torture links

For now, the hidden agenda behind this ruling is obvious. The British government – and indeed other like governments around the world – have placed the responsibility for educating children firmly in the hands of the state. In turn, the state is imposing a way of thinking on children with methods reminiscent of a dictatorship.

Through the use of PREVENT to police “British values” and a compliant neo-conservative dominated Ofsted, the government is embarking on a programme of social conditioning that tramples upon religious freedom, threatens other religious groups especially Jewish people, limits choice, and ignores what many parents genuinely believe to be the best conditions for their children to learn and develop as full human beings.

This is a nothing short of oppression and discrimination and should be seen as such, and resisted appropriately, with all the rigour that protecting our children demands.


CC image courtesy of Tim Ellis on Flickr

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)