A Muslim father has been found guilty of one count of assault and five counts of racially or religiously aggravated behaviour after storming into a Catholic school and launching a tirade of abuse at teachers after two Muslim students were banned from lessons for growing beards.
Mohammad Liaqat hurled ‘racist’ insults at white teachers as parents picked up their children at the end of the school day, and even assaulted the headteacher. He was protesting about the uniform policy at Mount Carmel High School in Accrington, Lancashire, which said that students cannot have beards.
The Daily Mail reports that after he was arrested, he was told to stay away from the school, so he went to a different school, St Oswald’s Roman Catholic Primary School, to continue his abusive rant. When the headteacher at St Oswald’s asked him to leave, Liaqat shoulder barged him.
Although Liaqat has a child at Mount Carmel, he is not related to the two boys who were barred from lessons. The situation with the students had also been resolved by the time Liaqat launched his tirade, with the boys being allowed to keep their beards so long as they signed up to a programme at a local mosque to demonstrate their faith.
The trial at Burnley Crown Court lasted three days. Mr Liaqat is now being remanded in custody before sentencing in June.
Speaking after the trial, Xavier Bowers, headteacher at Mount Carmel, said: “We are pleased that justice has been done in this instance.My staff were simply doing their job at the time, supervising our children leaving school and making sure they were safe. Without provocation, they were verbally assaulted and abused in front of the children and parents.
“We always try to work towards good relationships with our families. This was an unfortunate incident, but we can now draw a line under it and move on. We are largely a happy school and we have good relationships with our local community.”
Police Constable Dave Hall of Lancashire Police’s hate crime and cohesion said: “Ultimately, the issue at Mount Carmel was amicably resolved, but Liaqat decided to take it upon himself to stage his own personal protest.
“He racially abused several of the school staff and he kept referring to Mount Carmel as a racist school. He went on a racist tirade towards the white members of staff. He made it quite clear he was deeply upset.
“After being arrested, he was released on bail. He decided to vent his fury at St Oswald’s Primary. He had reason to be there but not to behave in the way he did.
“Liaqat was causing problems, which led to the headteacher asking him to leave the premises. He reacted by racially abusing staff there and assaulting the head. What he did was completely unacceptable. Whatever his motives, we cannot accept this kind of behaviour.”