Bob and Sue are two old friends. If Bob were to tell Sue that he was playing football the previous evening, Sue would easily believe him because she knows the sport exists, that Bob exists, and that he enjoys playing football. If she doubts him, she might ask for confirmation from one of his friends.
If, however, Sue were to tell Bob that she’s a witch with supernatural powers and produces a witches’ hat along with a friend testifying that she is a witch, Bob would still not be inclined to believe her without strong evidence supporting the existence of these supernatural powers. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, as Carl Sagan famously said.
‘Operation Trojan Horse’ purported to be a ‘how to guide’ for hard-line ‘Islamists’ performing jihad by overthrowing head teachers at state schools in Birmingham and replacing them with compliant leaders who would run the schools on “strict Islamic principles” is one such extraordinary claim.
However, far from presenting extraordinary evidence to support that claim, the document is anonymous, undated and strewn with factual errors including misnaming senior officials at both Birmingham and Bradford councils. Moreover, ‘Trojan Horse’ is neither the language of ‘jihad’ nor the mindset of ‘hard-line Islamists’. This is a different matter for the far-right with people including:
- Geert Wilders declaring “Islam is the Trojan Horse in Europe” in Dutch Parliament
- Anders Behring Breivik depicting Islam as a ‘Trojan Horse’ in video animation prior to his killing spree
- Michael Gove: ‘Trojan Horse’ contained in his anti-Islam book ‘Celsius 7/7’
Thus the possibility of this being a ‘false-flag’ operation seems more probable than the validity of the document but even if we were to accept the presented evidence as valid, weak evidence by itself is not enough to overcome the extraordinary nature of these claims let alone trigger an unprecedented investigation by the Department of Education run by a former Head of Counter-Terrorism to analyse evidence of extremist infiltration in both academies and council-run schools.
Gove justifies his response with these allegations need either to be substantiated…or to be shown to be baseless but these allegations will not be substantiated. No such Muslim conspiracy will be discovered: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, after all.
However, they will not be shown to be baseless. Instead of apologising, we will witness a shifting of goalposts from an ‘Islamic plot’ to ‘extremism’ conflated with religious conservatism as this constant drip of leaks are suggesting to justify this witch-hunt.
Keep your eye on the ball.