A 14 year old London student was questioned by school officials about his possible involvement with Islamic State after he raised the subject of environmental activism in a classroom discussion.
The administration's response was part of the Tory government's "anti-extremism" mandate on schools, which requires them to seek out and address evidence of terrorist radicalisation in the classroom.
The boy came home in distress and has been afraid to take part in classroom discussions since. His classmates, including white students, say that he was singled out because he is Muslim.
His family are suing.
Around one week later the teenager was in another French class when he was taken out to an “inclusion centre”. Describing what happened there, he said in his statement: “The lady behind the desk told me that she was a child protection officer. She then said to me that there had been “a safety concern raised”. I did not understand why she was talking about a safety concern and what this had to do with me. She went on to say: ‘Your French teacher … I think, mentioned you used the word terrorism.’
“I remembered the lesson and explained that I had mentioned the phrase eco-terrorism in relation to eco-warriors and protecting the environment. I explained again what they were, and that they put nails in trees to blunt the blade of a chainsaw which is why people sometimes call them terrorists. The member of staff behind the desk looked at the member of staff behind me and said: ‘Told you, he is a tree-hugger.’
“She made a hugging gesture with her arms and, looking at me, asked me if I ‘went around hugging trees’ like one of her relatives. She then asked me: ’Do you have any affiliation with Isis?’
“When she said the word Isis I immediately felt alarmed and extremely scared. I knew what Isis was as I have seen reports about them in the media. I knew that they behead and kill people. I could not think why she was asking me this or how it followed on from my French lesson ... and replied no.
“The member of staff sitting behind me, who had brought me to the inclusion centre, then asked me: ‘Do the chainsaws explode?’. Before I could answer the member of staff sitting behind the desk asked: ’Do you understand why there could be a misunderstanding?’”
School questioned Muslim pupil about Isis after discussion on eco-activism
[Vikram Dodd/The Guardian]