Payout after teachers wrongly accused boy of wearing ISIS t-shirt

30th Aug 2019

Harun Nasrullah

A Muslim schoolboy from East London was awarded £3,500 in compensation last month after teachers wrongly assumed he was wearing a T-shirt in support of Isis in 2006. The unnamed child, then aged eight, was referred to social services under the Government’s anti-terror Prevent strategy.

The boy came to class donning an ‘I want to be like Abu Bakr al-Siddique’ T-shirt, in homage to the close companion to Prophet Muhammad, but staff mistakenly thought it referred to terror group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The boy’s mother said she had been contacted by a social services representative in February 2016 who said they wished to discuss the incident with the boy and she recalled the word ‘deradicalisation’ being used.

At the interview, his parents said they were kept out of the room as the boy was asked questions about Isis – which he did not know anything about.
The child later said he had also been asked about his religious beliefs such as whether he believed Christians went to hell when they die and what he liked to watch on TV.

The mother said she had been told by social services that they had recorded a “form of caution” against him but she did not know whether this was a formal caution and how it would affect him in the future.

The boy now aged 11, was left traumatised by the experience and is now reluctant to speak up in class, according to his family. Tower Hamlets Council in East London paid the £3,500 for a breach of the 1988 Human Rights Act.

A spokeswoman for the Tower Hamlets Council told The Muslim News: “There is a confidentiality agreement in relation to this insurance settlement, and we are unable to comment.”

The incident was one of several highlighted in a 2016 report by human rights charity, Rights Watch UK, as evidence of Muslim pupils being made to feel unwelcome at school due to the Government’s Prevent strategy launch under Labour 15 years ago.

Prevent, which places a statutory duty on public-sector workers to spot non-violent extremism, has been slammed for reducing the state’s engagement with Muslims through the prism of counter-terrorism.

In 2016 schoolboy Rahmaan Mohammadi was questioned by police after he had worn a ‘Free Palestine’ badge at Challney High School for Boys in Luton.

In the same year, a 10-year-old Muslim boy was quizzed by police after mistakenly writing that he lived in a ‘terrorist house’ rather than a ‘terraced house.’ The youngster made the error during an English lesson at a Lancashire school, and the following day police arrived at his home to interview him and examine the family laptop.

A London mother has told of a similar incident after her 14-year-old son was questioned by counter-terrorism officials when he mentioned the word ‘eco-terrorists’ in school. Ifhat Shaheen said her son was taken aside at Central Foundation School and asked if he was affiliated to the Islamic State group.
Home Office figures reveal that as many as 2,009 under-15s were flagged up over terror concerns in the year to March, a 20 per cent rise on the year before.


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