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School questioned Muslim pupil about Isis after discussion on eco-activism

The incident at Central Foundation school gives an insight into how schools and teachers are dealing with the pressures of the government’s new anti-extremism initiatives Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

By Vikram Dodd, The Guardian

Parents of 14-year-old at north London’s Central Foundation school take legal action after he was left ‘scared and nervous’ by experience

A Muslim schoolboy was questioned about Islamic State after a classroom discussion about environmental activism, the Guardian has learned.

The parents of the 14-year-old are taking legal action after the boy said he was left “scared and nervous” by his experience with school officials in north London, and was left reluctant to join in class discussions for fear of being suspected of extremism.

The incident gives an insight into how schools and teachers are dealing with the pressures of the government’s new anti-extremism initiatives amid mounting concern about British youngsters being lured by Isis propaganda.

According to court documents, the boy was in a French class at the Central Foundation school in May 2015 and took part in a discussion, conducted mostly in French, about the environment. The teacher and pupils were said to have discussed those who use violence to protect the planet.

The teenager mentioned that some people use the term “ecoterrorist” to describe those who take action such as spiking trees with nails to prevent chainsaws from chopping them down.

A few days later he was pulled out of class and taken to an “inclusion centre” elsewhere in the school. During this meeting the schoolboy said one adult sat behind him, and another in front of him, whom he had not seen before. That person was a child protection officer, the Guardian has learned, who had been called in to establish if concerns about terrorism were legitimate.

The boy who wishes not to be named, told the Guardian: “I didn’t know what was going on. They said there had been safety concerns raised. If you are taken out of French class and asked about Isis, it is quite scary. My heart skipped a beat.”

He said he was baffled how mentioning the phrases “L’ecoterrorisme”, which he had learned from an earlier session of the school debating society, led to him being asked whether he supported Isis.

The boy and his parents say he was asked if he was “affiliated” with Isis. The school said he was asked if he had heard of the terrorist group, according to legal papers filed by his mother. The boy’s mother said her son came home from school “visibly distressed”.

The school said it was protecting the “welfare of the child in line with statutory and non-statutory guidance including the ’prevent duty’”, the government initiative that aims to stop people turning to extremism and terrorist violence, according to the legal documents.

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  • JD

    What if they were Muslim

    Father is beaten to death with bricks by Indian mob and his son is left fighting for life after rumours circulate he’d eaten beef… but it was actually lamb

    A Muslim father was beaten to death with bricks by an angry Indian mob after rumours circulated that his family had eaten beef.

    Mohammad Akhlaq was hauled from his home in the village of Dadri and set upon by around 100 people. 

    The 50-year-old was pulled from the clutches of the baying gang alive, but later died in hospital of his injuries. 

    His 22-year-old son was also seriously injured in the attack and remains in intensive care.

    Mr Akhlaq’s devastated daughter later revealed the family had eaten mutton and not beef. 

    Six people have been arrested in connection with the death, which took place around 35 miles from New Delhi.

    ‘When our team reached the spot a crowd was there outside his house,’ said senior police superintendent  Kiran S.

    ‘They (police) managed to rescue him and take him to hospital but his life could not be saved. 

    ‘We have arrested six people and deployed additional personnel to contain any further repercussions.’ 

    Killing cows is banned in many states of India, a majority-Hindu country that also has sizeable Muslim, Christian and Buddhist minorities.

    In March, the state of Maharashtra toughened its ban to make even possessing beef illegal, a move seen by religious minorities as a sign of the growing power of hardline Hindus since nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power.

  • cmyfe .

    They might as well create a rule by which every Muslim kid has to hourly declare (written and verbally) that he / she is not affiliated with any terrorist org or else they get expelled and jailed.
    I am sure it will reduce the chances of them being brainwashed into terrorist activities.

  • sasboy

    Sue the school and make them into an example of how traumatizing children for talking about activism should be stopped.

  • The greenmantle

    Silly silly and even more stupid this school should know better .

    Sir David

  • Yausari

    Almost like the clock-bomb incident. Schools ARE hiring not-stupid teachers nowadays, right?

  • JD

    If he not a radical now this is prob make him more accepting to that life…. Even push him hate people who were messing with him and his ” people ‘ great recruitment tool for groups like AL- Quida and ISIS thanks UK Goverment

  • Joey Sanders

    I am trying to figure this out. This child was not even talking about Isis. He was talking about something completely different. It was the subsequent hearing where Isis was first mentioned.

    Since, it was not the child who mentioned Isis, should the people who conducted the hearing be subject to the same treatment? If anything, they are the ones putting “terrorist thoughts” into his head. Maybe this child, now hearing about Isis, will now research Isis, learn about them, and become more willing to join them if he agrees with their views.

    On another note, bombing a Muslim country under false pretenses and slaughtering innocent Muslims through drone strikes, may cause some Muslims to become extreme and want to take revenge. Violence begets violence.

  • mindy1

    How dumb, he was discussing the topic at hand and gets questioned :/

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