This American Life released a podcast about the Trojan Horse Affair which was a situation in which the headteacher of a United Kingdom school district lost his job over an anonymous letter claiming a conspiracy on his part to Islamize a failing public school district which he had turned around from a failing school district with a remarkably high pass rate.
The podcast was rated by The Guardian as one of the best podcasts of the week. It is an exemplary piece of not only journalism regarding the Trojan Horse Affair and the way in which the perspectives and privileges journalists come with face their reporting as well as the reality of institutional Islamophobia which leads to so many hazards for anyone involved in Islamic work.
To begin, both hosts of the podcasts did a good job of reflecting on the way their backgrounds affect their reporting. This came to head when Hamza Syed shed his journalistic neutrality when one of the people he and his non-Muslim cohost was interviewing expressed ignorance at the importance of the Trojan Horse story. After the non-Muslim cohost called Syed out for showing his biases, this was quickly followed by a reflection after the fact when the cohost understood why Syed was upset as it was his community that had been on the receiving end of the fallout of the Trojan Horse Schedule. This resulted in many members of the Muslim community being black-listed and losing their jobs all based on an anonymous letter which very likely was fabricated to distract from a more pressing issue of institutional corruption which had nothing to do with extremism.
He as a non-Muslim couldn’t appreciate this fact along with the reality of discrimination and harassment that Muslims have always had to endure especially from mainstream institutions. In that respect, this is something that white non-Muslims have to be conscious of when dealing with their Muslim colleagues and subjects.
Last but not least, the story is a great case study in the occupational hazard of hypocrisy and backstabbing in the Muslim community that anyone involved in Muslim institutions is all too familiar with. The alternate theory explored by the hypothesis was that another Muslim school official fabricated the Trojan horse letter to distract from the plausible accusations that she had fabricated letters of resignation for rebellious employees.
Whether or not this alternate version of events is true, the effect is indisputable in that all attention from law enforcement and the courts was diverted from her to Tahir Alam and his school which had seen a remarkable increase in student competence rate. Even if the alternative version isn’t true, it aligns with stories and facts those of us who have been involved with Islamic work are familiar with.
Just 2 months CAIR-Ohio discovered that one of its leaders was leaking information to one of the most notorious Islamic organizations and was dismissed, not to mention the realities of spying and entrapment which have made so many of us distrustful of each other and the society at large. This can only happen because members of our community know that law enforcement won’t provide the serious scrutiny that they would usually do if they were dealing with privileged non-Muslims.
The result is the western countries which are extolled for their rule of law and justice abandoning evidentiary standards and due process when it comes to dealing with Muslims. For that reason, Muslims can’t just count on the benevolence of the government to be fairer to our community but have to actively pressure it to apply the principles it claims to apply to all to our community in particular.
This includes having the commitment and courage to apply for Islamic injunctions against spying against Muslims and backbiting/slander even if it comes at personal cost and not selling each other out for the fleeting gains of this world whether that be a business advantage or protecting one’s job. Until we develop the principles and loyalty to not sell each other out, we can’t expect non-Muslim governments to treat us any better.