London: Schools in the British capital face probe after fears that some of them might have fallen under the influence of Islamist extremism, with officials believing the situation could be worse than that uncovered in the Trojan Horse scandal in Birmingham.
The UK government had earlier this year ordered an inquiry into a so-called Trojan Horse plot by Islamist extremists to infiltrate schools in Birmingham, which has a large Muslim population -- nearly 22 per cent.
Government sources have said that officials at the UK's Department for Education (DfE) are concerned that the situation may be worse than that uncovered in the Trojan Horse scandal.
As many as a dozen schools in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets, a predominantly Bangladeshi Muslim area of the city, face investigation, the sources told The Sunday Times.
"Tower Hamlets is expected to be the next Birmingham, but even worse, because the problems surrounding Muslim fundamentalists imposing their views on education seem to be more embedded," a source said.
Both secular state schools and private Islamic schools are under suspicion, and there are concerns that non-Muslim teachers are staying silent for fear of losing their jobs.
"The DfE will rely on whistleblowers to come forward about non-Muslim teachers being sidelined by Muslim fundamentalists in the borough," the source told the newspaper.
"But potential whistleblowers fear they may be bullied, further sidelined or fired if they raise concerns."
Allegations about the imposition of extreme views in Tower Hamlets classrooms come as UK schools inspectorate Ofsted prepares to publish the findings of emergency inspections of 40 schools in England in the past fortnight.
The prospect of a new Trojan Horse-style scandal in Tower Hamlets will alarm ministers.
The original plot, first revealed by The Sunday Times, resulted in the removal of several head teachers and boards of governors in Birmingham.
A report into the scandal by Peter Clarke, a former head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard, found evidence of a "sustained" attempt to impose hardline Muslim views, with female staff bullied and Christian assemblies scrapped.
The DfE said: "If any evidence of extremism is presented to us, we will investigate."