UK & World News
Trojan School Claims 'Plain Old Islamophobia'
An assistant principal at a Birmingham school at the centre of a so-called Trojan Horse takeover plot has claimed "plain old Islamophobia" is behind the claims.
Lee Donaghy told a panel of MPs that people were failing to differentiate between "Muslims", "terrorists" and "extremists" and twisting events at Park View School.
He insisted there was no evidence of extremism at the school and that all claims to the contrary would be fully investigated.
Park View was one of five schools in the city placed into special measures by schools regulator Ofsted after inspections prompted by claims of a plot by Muslim extremists to take them over.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the House of Commons home affairs select committee, questioned Mr Donaghy on the source of rumours about the running of Park View.
Mr Donaghy replied: "I think there are various different things. One is just plain old Islamophobia.
"So either people are deliberately twisting things that have happened or casting aspersions that there is somehow no difference between a Muslim and a terrorist, an extremist.
"I think perhaps unwitting as well, ignorance, people who don't understand the Muslim way of life, the things Muslims do, the things they believe."
Mr Vaz said: "You're telling this committee very clearly that this is not about extremism or promoting extremism in schools, it's not even about long-term grooming of children to become extremists in the future, this is old fashioned prejudice?"
Mr Donaghy replied: "I think that's part of it, yes."
But Mr Donaghy admitted the school could have done more to vet Muslim preacher Sheikh Shady al-Suleiman who gave a talk to pupils about individual responsibility and time-keeping.
A report described the invitation given to Mr al Suleiman as "inappropriate" as "he is known to have previously extolled extremist views," including support for the Afghan Taliban.