United Kingdom — Most would agree that the issue of Palestine and Israel is one that should be discussed in all schools, particularly in Britain, which has played no small part in one of the most grave injustices in history. Last week, CAGE — an advocacy group for those affected by the ‘War on Terror’ — leaked a number of training documents that revealed teaching staff are being encouraged to consider Muslim students who display an interest in Palestinian issues as vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.
We have previously reported on the creeping use of counter-terrorism policies in the U.K. being used to clamp down on civil liberties by way of the PREVENT programme, which is operated across the U.K. through the government’s Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent, commonly referred to as WRAP.
Recently leaked training materials include workshop plans, video clips, and software programmes that are being used to train public sector workers in spotting signs of radicalisation.
“Where the public sector is being required to play a role as part of the security state, it is important that there is full transparency and accountability.” — CAGE
The resources list Palestine alongside Syria and the growth of the Islamic State group as issues that need careful monitoring by those involved in safeguarding. “As recent stories involving vulnerable pupils have shown, issues around Palestine, Syria and the growth of ISIL/ISIS require careful monitoring by those involved in school safeguarding.” (Safe Schools, Section 1: Extremism FAQs)
Alongside the absurdity of putting Palestine and the Islamic State in the same category, is it any wonder that cases of misreporting have plagued the education system since the introduction of PREVENT? According to CAGE, public sector workers are being trained in “empirically flawed reasoning,” which only reiterates the government’s own flawed thinking around extremism.
For concrete evidence of the climate of fear being created, look no further than schoolboy Rahmaan Mohammadi from Luton, who was questioned by anti-terrorism police for wearing a “Free Palestine” badge to school.
Mohammadi appears to have aroused suspicion in hyper-vigilant teaching staff for carrying a leaflet advocating Palestinian human rights and asking for permission to fundraise for Palestinian children. The Independentreports that Bedfordshire police visited Mohammadi’s home with a folder of information about the schoolboy, and after speaking with him and his parents, concluded he was not at risk and no further action was taken.
Singling out Palestine as an issue potentially linked to extremism not only risks problematising an issue of grave concern for many British Muslims, but has the potential to make people afraid of openly discussing the plights of those suffering from oppression.
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