- Michelle Obama paid visit to the Mulberry School for Girls, Tower Hamlets
- More than 90% of pupils are Muslim from mainly Bangladeshi background
- And majority have no option but to wear headscarves and long robes
- But still it was chosen as the site for the First Lady's speech on equality
Of all the schools in all the towns in all the world, why did Michelle Obama visit a girls’ school in the Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets this week?
She says it was her own choice to make a speech on education at the Mulberry School for Girls. But was it?
I doubt the First Lady had ever heard of the school before this trip, and probably couldn’t point to Tower Hamlets on a map. My guess is that the venue was chosen deliberately by the Department for Education to showcase our new, rigorously enforced State religion:
Ultra-religious: Michelle Obama visits the Mulberry School, probably one of the least diverse schools in Britain
Actually, if that was what they intended, they couldn’t have chosen a worse example. The Mulberry School is probably one of the least diverse schools in Britain. And that includes Eton.
More than 90 per cent of the pupils are Muslim, from a predominantly Bangladeshi background. That make-up pretty much reflects the demography of the surrounding area.
Tower Hamlets, in East London, isn’t so much multicultural, it’s virtually a monoculture. The local council, under its recently deposed Muslim mayor, Lutfur Rahman, has been a by-word for Third World-style corruption and vote-rigging.
There are more burkas on the streets of Limehouse than there are in Lahore. So it wasn’t surprising to see the vast majority of the girls photographed with Mrs Obama wearing the now familiar headscarfs and long robes insisted upon by the more devout adherents of Islam.
Did the First Lady not appreciate the contradictions inherent in delivering a speech on female emancipation and education in front of an audience which could have been transported direct from Saudi Arabia?
Visit: More than 90 per cent of the pupils are Muslim, from a predominantly Bangladeshi background
Before the usual, excitable suspects start bouncing up and down, hurling their predictable knee-jerk smears of ‘racism’ and ‘Islamophobia’, let me emphasise that this isn’t a criticism of the girls themselves or the Mulberry School, which is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.
The pupils have no option other than to wear the restrictive clothes imposed upon them by their parents and their religious leaders.
It was bizarre, to say the least, to watch the wife of the President of the United States preaching equality to a single-sex audience dressed from head to toe in what most of us would consider to be a symbol of separatism, female oppression and a rejection of Western democratic values.
While we’re at it, what was she doing there in the first place? Surely her remarks would have been more appropriate in Riyadh or some other outpost of fundamentalist Islam. And it’s not as if America has an exemplary record of educational equality, especially in the inner cities.
Devout: It wasn’t surprising to see the vast majority of the girls photographed with Mrs Obama wearing the now familiar headscarfs and long robes insisted upon by the more devout adherents of Islam
This stunt was just another self-serving gimmick, right up there with Michelle’s flippant, doomed-to-failure hashtag internet campaign to free the 200 girls kidnapped in Nigeria by the Islamist barbarians, Boko Haram.
In any event, British Muslim women are already free — theoretically, that is — to pursue formal education and any career they choose. In practice, some of the brightest and best girls are forced to stay at home once they leave school, or take part in arranged marriages.
Of course, many enlightened Muslim parents in Britain encourage their daughters to go on to university and gain professional qualifications.
But there are also strict Muslims in this country who still believe in segregation of the sexes, see women as chattels and condone the outrageous practice of female genital mutilation.
They think a woman’s place is walking five yards behind her husband — when she’s allowed out of the house.
It will take more than the fine words of the First Lady to persuade them of the error of their ways.
Perhaps Mrs Obama should have taken her message not to the Mulberry School but to the male elders at the nearest mosque. That’s if they’d let her in.
If ‘celebrating diversity’ was the point of this visit, the DfE could have found dozens of other, more suitable schools. There are 270 different nationalities living in London and most playgrounds look like a United Colors of Benetton advert. So why choose one where the pupils are all wearing identical, ultra-religious uniforms?
One of the most disturbing reports I’ve read recently came from a Government quango which said that decades of successful integration in Britain has now gone into reverse.
This stunt was just another self-serving gimmick, right up there with Michelle’s flippant, doomed-to-failure hashtag internet campaign to free the 200 girls kidnapped in Nigeria by the Islamist barbarians, Boko Haram
Enthusiasm for faith schools was one reason singled out. But the creeping Islamification of some areas, complete with de facto Sharia law, certainly hasn’t helped, either.
This is leading to segregation and separate development, and helps create the conditions under which isolated young Muslim men and women are susceptible to extremist interpretations of Islam, and can be attracted to become cannon fodder for terrorist groups.
None, repeat, none of this is directed at the Mulberry or its pupils. But no one can claim this school is representative of our wider society.
The pupils of the Mulberry School for Girls (pictured) have no option other than to wear the restrictive clothes imposed upon them by their parents and their religious leaders
Is this really the image of Britain we wish to project around the globe?
Imagine you were an American looking at this picture in, say, Oklahoma, and trying to work out which, of all the schools in all the towns in all the world your First Lady had just walked into?
You might conclude she was in Pakistan, or somewhere in the Middle East.
Now try to gauge your reaction when you discovered that Michelle Obama was actually in London.
London, England? Get outta here. Hey, Wilma! Will ya take a look at this...