Rising up from the focus of the Surrey worker town of Woking stands the grand Shah Jahan mosque. It was established in 1889 by Dr Gottlieb Leitner, a Jew who changed over to Anglicanism.
He needed the mosque to be part of an Oriental Institute, advancing a more prominent understanding between religions.
What irony. One hundred what’s more, twenty a long time later, two authorities from Shah Jahan sought after a ‘hidden agenda’ persuasively to change a local, mainstream essential school into an Islamic confidence school.
Their forceful battle of ‘anti-Christian’ campaigning what’s more, unwarranted charges of prejudice what’s more, Islamophobia overseen to wreck what had been a display school. Its persuasive headmistress was lessened to a anxious wreck, to the degree that she has presently cleared out training altogether.
Last week in the High Court, Surrey Region Board was requested to pay headmistress Erica Connor more than 400,000 pay for having fizzled to bolster her. It is as it were presently the full foundation to her case can be revealed.
Using articulations of confirm what’s more, interviews, it is conceivable to piece together the uncommon story of the defeat of New Landmark school.
If there is one superseding lesson, it is that officialdom, on edge to keep up political correctness, will regularly kowtow to radical Islam – indeed on the off chance that it does not reflect the wishes of the more extensive Muslim community.
New Landmark is a kept up group school – state-run, with no religious affiliation. Mrs Connor arrived in 1994 what’s more, moved toward becoming headmistress four a long time later. A few 80 per penny of her understudies were Muslim, numerous with guardians unskilled in English. Half were on the uncommon needs register.
But under Mrs Connor the school appeared the second most made strides SATs comes about in the country. In 2001, she was welcomed to Bringing down Road in acknowledgment of this.
However, these accomplishments started to disentangle in February 2003 at the point when Paul Martin was selected as a senator – indeed despite the fact that he did not have any youngsters at the school.
Mr Martin, 57, who ran a garments shop in the town, is a white Muslim change over (as is his Austrian-born wife) and, at the time, headed the training panel at the mosque.
Within months he proposed that Sofia Syed, another Muslim, join the school’s board. Mumtaz Saleem, 41, was moreover selected as a Nearby Training Specialist (LEA) designated governor. Martin what’s more, Saleem and, to a much lesser extent, Syed, were to be the modelers of the calamity which followed.
Muslim change over Paul Martin was a representative at the New Landmark School
At his to begin with governors’ meeting, Mr Martin requested they start with a non-denominational petition to the Almighty. Ominously, indeed at this early stage, he said he detected ‘tension between the school what’s more, the community’. This was news to everybody else at the meeting. Yet the storm truly broke the following February.
It was at that point Mr Martin composed to the headmistress charging that a Muslim educator what’s more, senator called Rosie Mir had said to him: ‘I tell the youngsters to toss the Koran away.’
He guaranteed she said that the blessed book ought to be read as it were at the point when the kids were more established what’s more, could get it it. He too asserted she said understudies were told they must clear out their culture at home what’s more, move toward becoming ‘nice little English children’.
Mr Martin went on to make an similarly touchy assertion against another female staff member. He said Stephanie Roche had asked: ‘Why do they (children) have to go to the mosque? They can’t indeed read English. It’s so pointless.’
In reaction to these claims, Mrs Connor, composed to Mr Martin what’s more, told him both ladies denied his charges ‘ vehemently’. She included that she too counseled the imam of the Shah Jahan mosque, saying: ‘He was amazed what’s more, baffled by your recommendation that there was any ill-feeling between the school what’s more, the mosque.’
Mrs Connor took the insurance of educating the LEA’s executive of education, caution that the circumstance was getting to be ‘extremely difficult’.
Tellingly, for the to begin with time, she too utilized the state ‘hidden agenda’ in association with Mr Martin’s behaviour. She said she heard from guardians that recommendations had been mooted for New Landmark to move toward becoming an Islamic school.
As an sign of her professionalism, she said she did not have a issue being head instructor of a confidence school in the event that the group needed that.
The LEA remained silent. Yet Mr Martin made himself busy, griping to the expert that he felt ‘traumatised’ what’s more, tormented by the other governors.
He said he endured from ‘loss of sleep, plentiful sweating, misfortune of concentration, poor execution at work’ what’s more, interruption in his family life. Furthermore, he was not persuaded that the school was doing all it could ‘to proactively evade anti-Muslim feeling inside the school’.
A notice was properly created by an LEA official, in which the following perception was made about Martin: ‘He takes everything actually what’s more, … one ponders on the off chance that he does not have a covered up agenda. He is extremely dynamic in the nearby mosque what’s more, has the potential to do hurt to the school’s reputation.’
On June 9, 2004, another governors’ meeting took place. Again, Mr Martin what’s more, Mr Saleem lectured the headmistress on the require for a nearer relationship between Islam what’s more, the school.
The New Landmark school was once a reference point for group cohesion
Eventually, Mrs Connor strolled out, ‘clearly upset’ by the forceful questioning.
Afterwards, one of the governors composed griping to the seat of governors, Check Tackley-Goodman, about Mr Saleem’s unfriendly demeanor what’s more, his ‘highly insulting’ perception that guardians who sent their youngsters to New Landmark had a ‘lack of values’.
But Mr Martin was too back on the attack. He sent the executive an email saying: ‘I have been a Muslim for almost 25 a long time what’s more, I have never had any individual encounter of Islamophobia. I am too bad to say that that has changed since I have been a governor.’
Unsurprisingly, Mr Tackley-Goodman lost persistence at this accusation. He messaged an LEA official to grumble about Mr Martin what’s more, Mr Saleem, adding: ‘I accept the time is well late for the LEA to step in what’s more, investigate.’
But the LEA was not arranged to guard its staff. In fact, one of the senior LEA authorities communicated the see that Mr Martin was ‘quite reasonable’ what’s more, not a trouble-maker adding:’He has obviously expressed to me that he is not after a single confidence school.’ A flat consolation was sent to the headmistress what’s more, an LEA officer afterward met her to talk about the situation.
Mrs Connor told the officer that guardians were announcing gatherings in the group that were sorted out to, in her words, ‘get me out’. She was moreover agitate by an remarkable ‘ social awareness’ preparing session that had been sorted out by Mrs Syed for the school’s staff.
The session coaches created a extraordinary outline setting out perfect Islamic demeanors in differentiate to seen English values – which contained things such as drinking, drug-taking what’s more, extra-marital affairs.
Once again, the executive of governors inquired the LEA to step in. This time the specialist concurred to direct a review.
It corresponded with another ‘stormy’ governors’ meeting. Again, Martin what’s more, Saleem centered on faith.
In more joyful times: Youngsters at New Landmark school, celebrate in their IT room as it is reported the school was one of Britain’s most improved
Such was the atmosphere, that the Muslim educator Ms Mir said Mr Martin’s assertions had made her ‘ sincerely ill’ what’s more, had driven her to question-her decision of career. In November-the LEA audit conveyed its report, having directed 58 interviews, counting one with the imam of the mosque.
It found there was ‘no confirm of consider prejudice or, then again religious inclination inside the administering body or, on the other hand the school staff’. It added: ‘The head educator has set up a solid what’s more, excited group of staff who are conferred to doing their best for pupils.’
But the strain caused by Martin what’s more, Saleem’s provocative conduct was starting to tell. The agent to the governors quit.
In her abdication letter she said: ‘The last maybe a couple gatherings have been consumed by Paul Martin what’s more, Mumtaz [Saleem] … An extreme sum of time (was) spent on exchanges concerning the mosque/school relationship.’
An instructive preparing specialist who gone to a governors’ meeting watched ‘bullying’ of the dominant part took place. She, too, noted that the term ‘hidden agenda’ was presently being generally utilized in connection to ‘a campaign-by certain governors to get a single confidence Islamic school on the New Landmark site’.
Mr Tackley-Goodman, the executive of the governors, went on the counter-attack however again. In early 2005 he composed to the LEA saying: ‘The LEA are presently throwing those who have attempted to resolve the anti-Christian what’s more, anti-secular shenanigans of a little gathering of individuals, as the parties at fault.’
In May, intervention between the warring groups took place. Two days afterward the representing body voted to expel Mr Martin. Mrs Connor, the head, said that after that meeting Mr Saleem yelled at her that they were going to get her. On the off chance that she thought she would ‘get away with this’ she was wrong.
As part of schedule changes among the governors, Mr Tackley-Goodman ventured aside as chairman, despite the fact that he proceeded to play an dynamic part on the board.
A week afterward an LEA official revealed a discussion he had with the new chairman, a direct Muslim called Mr Shah, who detailed that the aggressor governors ‘did not speak to any group what’s more, had been expelled from their individual roles/interest in the mosque’.
Mr Shah could not get it why Mr Martin was seeking after a single confidence school at the point when that was not the wish of the more extensive community.
Yet still pressures were rising. June 14 was to demonstrate a appalling day for the school. There was another hazardous meeting, amid which Mr Tackley-Goodman asserted to have been debilitated by Mr Saleem. He said Saleem too made a ‘scandalous assertion of racism’ against the headmistress.
The same day, Mr Martin conveyed his upset de beauty – a dissension to the LEA that the school was, to utilize that fear phrase, institutionally racist.
Among his reactions was that while the cover of a school report appeared seven children, as it were one of whom was brown-skinned.
That afternoon, outside the school gates, gossipy tidbits flowed of the presence of a request of no certainty in the headmistress. Spray painting hostile to Mrs Connor was smeared on school walls.
That same evening, senior LEA officers were exhorted by the grandly-titled Province Board Objections Administration what’s more, the Correspondences Organizer that they ought to dispatch an autonomous examination into the grumblings against the school what’s more, its headmistress. In the event that not, they confronted ‘the chance of a referral to the Commission of Racial Equality’.
The following day the supposed appeal appeared. It was headed with the words: ‘We the undersigned, guardians of youngsters at New Landmar