Katherine Birbalsingh, known as Britain’s strictest head teacher with an outstanding educational record in her school, is facing legal action over a ban on prayer rituals. She defended the policy, arguing that it was vital in order to “maintain a successful learning environment where children of all races and religion can thrive”.
Previously, the court heard there had not appeared to be any great appetite for prayers at the school, where about half of the pupils are Muslim. Last year, however, a growing number of children began praying during their lunch break, increasing from a single child to 30 in a matter of days. The prayer sessions led to growing segregation between non-Muslim and Muslim pupils in the playground, and that a number of Muslim children were observed by teachers applying peer pressure to other Muslim children, encouraging them to be more observant. In one alleged incident described to the court, a child who had never previously worn a headscarf was pressured to wear one. A Muslim girl was said to have dropped out of the school choir after she was told by other Muslim children that it was haram (forbidden), while a number of other children were told they were “bad Muslims” for not praying and had begun to pray, according to written arguments before the court.
Birbalsingh defended the “the culture and ethos” of the school where “children of all races and religions buy into something bigger than themselves: our country”.
She was born 16 September 1973 in Auckland, New Zealand, with an academic father, grew up in Toronto, and was a Socialist Worker Party member (far left) at Oxford.
She is Virgo at befits a perfectionist teacher, with a singular and complicated chart. She has a lucky, confident Jupiter in Aquarius square Venus opposition Mars Moon in Taurus. Her Jupiter is in a confident trine to Pluto and Mercury which in turn are in an unyielding, tough-minded square to Saturn. She also has two yods of Pluto sextile Neptune inconjunct Mars (Moon) and Saturn sextile Mars inconjunct Neptune – a curious mix of idealism from Neptune and hard-driving determination from Mars with a dollop of argumentative zealotry from Mercury conjunct Pluto. She is a divisive and controversial figure though she does get results in a school where most of the pupils have English as their second language.
I would have to admit to a personal bias in this argument since I am allergic to almost all organised religion and especially dislike the bullying, coercive streak amongst certain Muslims to which the UK – and elsewhere – appear not to have found an adequate response.
Politicians’ inability to grapple with voters’ concerns about immigration, ranging from an overloading of the welfare system and housing provision, to fear of terrorism and criminality as well as an insidious or overt shift in the culture has the risk of opening the doors to far-right populist candidates. In 2001 then Tory leader, William Hague spoke of Britain being at risk of becoming at some point unrecognisable, which evoked a horrified response tagging him with the Enoch Powell stamp.
The Home Secretary recently criticised ‘do-gooders’ who stopped the deportation of violent criminals back to their home country. Detention Action is one charitable organisation concerned with the welfare of immigrants, whose activist member on a plane helped block the deportation of a Jamaican criminal, involved in a shoot-out on a Birmingham street, who has convictions for gun and drug-related crimes.
Detention Action, 24 July 1997, is a Sun Leo opposition Neptune and Uranus – so idealistic and defiant – with the can-be-fanatical Uranus Neptune taking centre ground. There’s also a stubborn Mercury square Pluto and and a hard-edged, maybe victim-focused Mars opposition Saturn. Except in this case the victim was the perpetrator.
Not sure the astrology adds much to this argument – continuing on from the previous post 3 December 2023 – Europe: clash of cultures.
But it is rapidly becoming the key election issue. Like the Post Office scandal it has been brewing for years without it breaking through into a MUST FIX issue.
Add On: Follow on media thoughts on the court action Telegraph.
“There’s a vital principle at stake in the case: whether ‘rights’ culture is allowed to trump social cohesion.”
“Birbalsingh is asking everyone to give up something, not to insist on everything, so we can all get on. We all need to compromise.”
“On one hand is what the French call laïcité: an agreement to leave religion out of certain areas (like the classroom) so that people of all religions and none can rub along together.
Against this we have the grievance industry, preaching minority rights. Claiming that “freedom of religion” somehow compels schools to open prayer rooms, or drop whatever may offend a minority – like Macbeth or Sunday study or plates that touch eggs – even if they are within majority national culture.”