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MEND PRESS RELEASE: Schools punishing students for supporting Palestine, including exclusions and calling police.

MEND PRESS RELEASE: Schools punishing students for supporting Palestine, including exclusions and calling police.

Categories: Latest News

Friday June 25 2021

In recent weeks, MEND’s Islamophobia Response Unit (IRU) has received 146 reports from students detailing schools taking action to shut down support of Palestine.

Cases include:

  • Students being told that displaying the Palestinian flag equates to supporting terrorism, with one teacher comparing it to the swastika.
  • Incidents where teachers have made statements including that it is Palestine’s fault that they are being bombed; that Palestine does not matter; and, even using Islamophobic language and slurs (such as P**i).
  • According to one report, a 14year old boy was slapped by his deputy head teacher for holding a sign saying “PLM [Palestinian Lives Matter], FREE PALESTINE”. The incident left the student feeling unsafe to return to school following the half term break due to the school’s failure to investigate the incident despite CCTV footage.
  • A 15year old student was excluded from classes and sent to isolation for wearing a keffiyeh, while in another case a Year 12 student was reprimanded for wearing a “Free Palestine” badge and putting up posters with QR codes that directed viewers to educational resources on Palestine.

Following attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque last month, PREVENT teams sent guidance to a number of schools across the country, renewing concerns that the PREVENT strategy is being used to shut down political opposition through securitising legitimate discourse.

Azhar Qayum, CEO of MEND, states:

“Neither Islamophobia nor anti-Semitism should ever be tolerated, and schools should be working to create respectful environments where critical democratic debates can occur in a healthy manner. However, the current approach of many schools serves only to fuel Islamophobia and marginalise Muslim and pro-Palestinian students’ voices and experiences. This approach excludes young people from participation and will have devastating consequences for the confidence and inclusion of these students in public life as they develop.”

[ENDS]

Notes for Editors: 

  • MEND is a community-funded organisation that seeks to encourage political, civic, and social engagement within British Muslim communities through empowering British Muslims to interact with political and media institutions effectively. 
  • MEND’S IRU (Islamophobia Reporting Unit) works with victims of Islamophobia in both civil and criminal matters, ensuring a just resolution of matters. 
  • MEND’s work has been commended by the World Economic Forum and EU’s Parliament Magazine. 
  • MEND works with the Crown Prosecution Service, police forces, schools and communities across the UK to tackle Islamophobia.
  • For any enquiries, including information or interview requests, please contact: [email protected]
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