My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The downfall of a school...

Here's a case history that should be widely read...
Rising up from the centre of the Surrey commuter town of Woking stands the magnificent Shah Jahan mosque. It was founded in 1889 by Dr Gottlieb Leitner, a Jew who converted to Anglicanism.

He wanted the mosque to be part of an Oriental Institute, promoting a greater understanding between religions.

What irony. One hundred and twenty years later, two officials from Shah Jahan pursued a 'hidden agenda' forcibly to transform a local, secular primary school into an Islamic faith school.

Their aggressive campaign of 'anti-Christian' lobbying and unfounded allegations of racism and Islamophobia managed to destroy what had been a model school. Its inspirational headmistress was reduced to a nervous wreck, to the extent that she has now left education altogether.

Last week in the High Court, Surrey County Council was ordered to pay headmistress Erica Connor more than £400,000 compensation for having failed to support her. It is only now the full background to her case can be revealed.

Using statements of evidence and interviews, it is possible to piece together the extraordinary story of the downfall of New Monument school.

If there is one overriding lesson, it is that officialdom, anxious to maintain political correctness, will often kowtow to radical Islam - even if it does not reflect the wishes of the wider Muslim community.

New Monument is a maintained community school - state-run, with no religious affiliation. Mrs Connor arrived in 1994 and became headmistress four years later. Some 80 per cent of her pupils were Muslim, many with parents illiterate in English. Half were on the special needs register.

But under Mrs Connor the school showed the second most improved SATs results in the country. In 2001, she was invited to Downing Street in recognition of this.

However, these achievements began to unravel in February 2003 when Paul Martin was appointed as a governor - even though he did not have any children at the school.

Mr Martin, 57, who ran a clothes shop in the town, is a white Muslim convert (as is his Austrian-born wife) and, at the time, headed the education committee at the mosque.

Within months he proposed that Sofia Syed, another Muslim, join the school's board. Mumtaz Saleem, 41, was also recruited as a Local Education Authority (LEA) nominated governor. Martin and Saleem and, to a much lesser extent, Syed, were to be the architects of the disaster which followed.
erica connor and paul martin

Muslim convert Paul Martin was a governor at the New Monument School

At his first governors' meeting, Mr Martin demanded they begin with a non-denominational prayer to the Almighty. Ominously, even at this early stage, he said he sensed 'tension between the school and the community'. This was news to everyone else at the meeting. But the storm really broke the following February.

It was then Mr Martin wrote to the headmistress alleging that a Muslim teacher and governor called Rosie Mir had said to him: 'I tell the children to throw the Koran away.'

He claimed she said that the holy book should be read only when the children were older and could understand it. He also alleged she said pupils were told they must leave their culture at home and become 'nice little English children'.

Mr Martin went on to make an equally explosive allegation against another female staff member. He said Stephanie Roche had asked: 'Why do they (children) have to go to the mosque? They can't even read English. It's so pointless.'

In response to these claims, Mrs Connor, wrote to Mr Martin and told him both women denied his allegations ' vehemently'. She added that she also consulted the imam of the Shah Jahan mosque, saying: 'He was astonished and perplexed by your suggestion that there was any ill-feeling between the school and the mosque.'

Mrs Connor took the precaution of informing the LEA's director of education, warning that the situation was becoming 'extremely difficult'.

Tellingly, for the first time, she also used the phrase 'hidden agenda' in connection with Mr Martin's behaviour. She said she heard from parents that proposals had been mooted for New Monument to become an Islamic school.

As an indication of her professionalism, she said she did not have a problem being head teacher of a faith school if the community wanted that.

The LEA remained silent. But Mr Martin made himself busy, complaining to the authority that he felt 'traumatised' and bullied by the other governors.
He said he suffered from 'loss of sleep, profuse sweating, loss of concentration, poor performance at work' and disruption in his family life. Furthermore, he was not convinced that the school was doing all it could 'to proactively avoid anti-Muslim feeling within the school'.

A memorandum was duly produced by an LEA official, in which the following observation was made about Martin: 'He takes everything literally and ... one wonders if he does not have a hidden agenda. He is very active in the local mosque and has the potential to do harm to the school's reputation.'

On June 9, 2004, another governors' meeting took place. Again, Mr Martin and Mr Saleem harangued the headmistress on the need for a closer relationship between Islam and the school.

Eventually, Mrs Connor walked out, 'clearly upset' by the aggressive questioning.

Afterwards, one of the governors wrote complaining to the chair of governors, Mark Tackley-Goodman, about Mr Saleem's hostile attitude and his 'highly insulting' observation that parents who sent their children to New Monument had a 'lack of values'.

But Mr Martin was also back on the attack. He sent the chairman an email saying: 'I have been a Muslim for nearly 25 years and I have never had any personal experience of Islamophobia. I am sorry to say that that has changed since I have been a governor.'

Unsurprisingly, Mr Tackley-Goodman lost patience at this accusation. He emailed an LEA official to complain about Mr Martin and Mr Saleem, adding: 'I believe the time is well overdue for the LEA to step in and investigate.'

But the LEA was not prepared to defend its staff. In fact, one of the senior LEA officials expressed the view that Mr Martin was 'quite reasonable' and not a trouble-maker adding:'He has clearly stated to me that he is not after a single faith school.' A bland reassurance was sent to the headmistress and an LEA officer later met her to discuss the situation.

Mrs Connor told the officer that parents were reporting meetings in the community that were organised to, in her words, 'get me out'. She was also upset by an extraordinary ' cultural awareness' training session that had been organised by Mrs Syed for the school's staff.

The session trainers produced a special diagram setting out ideal Islamic attitudes in contrast to perceived English values - which contained things such as drinking, drug-taking and extra-marital affairs.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

England is rotting from the inside out.

1:23 PM  
Blogger kursk said...

There seems to be a common thread with 'recent' converts to Islam causing trouble in their western communities.

Go pedal your wares elsewhere.If being a good Muslim concerns you so much, go to a place where you will be more appreciated (or not, if that woman convert in Pakistan is any indication)

3:42 PM  

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