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'Trojan Horse affair fuels Islamophobia' in Newham

PUBLISHED: 12:52 10 July 2014

More than 60 teachers in Newham have signed an open letter to Michael Gove, saying the Trojan Horse affair has increased Islamophobia in the borough.

The letter, written by award-winning poet Michael Rosen and author Alan Gibbons, was also signed by Alex Kenny, secretary of the east London branch of the National Union of Teachers.

It accuses the Education Secretary and the press of using the story to fuel racism in schools and ignoring allegations of the Trojan Horse dossier being a fake.

Robert Ferguson, of Newham Sixth Form College, said the affair had been conducted in a way that equated Muslims in education with extremism and terror.

He said: “This is having an impact especially in Newham and other parts of east London. I have been approached by colleagues really concerned, but also determined to take a stand.”

Operation Trojan Horse refers to an organised attempt by Islamists to spread extremism through schools in Birmingham, detailed in a leaked letter that was discovered in March.

Mr Ferguson said: “I am a secularist teacher and believe firmly in the separation of religion and education while upholding the freedom of individual religious observance and practice. But the response to the alleged issues in some Birmingham schools, based on a letter acknowledged as a forgery, has been designed to target one community and one faith alone.”

Anti-terror chief Peter Clarke is leading an investigation into the claims.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “The allegations made in relation to some schools in Birmingham are very serious and we are investigating all evidence put to us in conjunction with Ofsted and Birmingham City Council.

“Retired senior police officer Peter Clarke has been asked by the Secretary of State to make a full inquiry into the schools and the background behind many of the broader allegations in the Trojan Horse letter.

“It is vital this investigation is carried out impartially, without pre-judgment.”

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