The former governor of a Birmingham school targeted by officials has scored a major victory in his challenge against an impending decision by the Dept. for Education to ban him from ever managing an independent school again.
Waseem Yaqub O.B.E. was chair of the board of governors at Al-Hijrah Islamic school, the entirety of which was dismissed by the DfE after a two year campaign by Birmingham City Council to destabilise one of the best schools in the city. The dismissals came after an inspection following the so-called Trojan Horse affair in which six other schools with majority Muslim board of governors were subjected to an Islamophobic witch-hunt after the circulation of a hoax letter suggesting a sinister plot by radical Muslims to take over some Birmingham schools.
Al-Hijrah school, which caters for pupils aged 4-16, was one of the most sought after schools in Birmingham until it was placed in special measures in 2014. All official inquiries cleared Al-Hijrah School governors of any involvement in the ‘Trojan Horse Conspiracy’.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan wrote to Mr. Yaqub on June 29 last year informing him of her intention to issue a direction preventing him from assuming the post of governor again. The letter invited him to send in representations as to why that would not be appropriate, which Mr. Yaqub did by instructing solicitors to challenge the DfE’s conduct.
“Even after a cursory reading, I realised that the Secretary of State had broken numerous laws. So I asked my local MP, Mr. Liam Byrne, to write to clarify the matters of concern, but Nicky Morgan only confirmed that she was personally leading the case against me,” said Mr. Yaqub.
As soon as the DfE received the legal letter, it ran for cover and tried to retract its original letter. In fresh correspondence sent on 29 February 2016 the DfE says that while it rejects the criticisms made by Mr Yaqub’s solicitors it wishes to withdraw the earlier letter. However, it also states that it may issue a new letter to Mr Yaqub indicating that the Secretary of State for Education is still minded to issue a direction against him. This means that Mr. Yaqub’s head remains firmly wedged in the guillotine for an indefinite time.
The latest development leads IHRC and Mr Yaqub to believe that the DfE is still intent on banning Mr Yaqub but has withdrawn the earlier letter which listed various grounds for seeking to do so simply to prevent itself being open to legal challenge. The view is that the DfE will present an attenuated list of reasons or cite fresh ones.
IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “We believes that the recent targeting of Muslim governors and schools under the pretext of preventing extremism is in fact a thinly veiled attack on Muslim values which is part of a wider social engineering programme designed to ‘liberalise’ Muslims. The persecution of Mr Yaqub and Al-Hijrah also represent a shocking abuse of power by the DfE which has to be challenged.”
Notes to editors:
Mr. Waseem Yaqub O.B.E. and Mr. Massoud Shadjareh are available for interviews.
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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
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