Climate of Fear: UK School Pupils Suspended After Quran Sustains Small Tear, Smudged Page

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2023/01/28: A protestor holds the Quran during the demonstration
Loredana Sangiuliano/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Four pupils have been suspended from a high school in England after a Qur’an they purchased was said to have sustained a small tear and a smudged page.

Four children around 14 years of age have been suspended from Wakefield’s Kettlethorpe High School in England after a Qur’an purchased by one of the boys, described as “highly autistic”, sustained minor damage, including a small tear to its cover.

The incident is said to have sparked multiple investigations, including one by the West Yorkshire Police, which is investigating the matter as a “hate incident”.

The book is said to have been damaged at the school after it was knocked out of a pupil’s hands and then put into a schoolbag, with it being unknown whether or not further things happened to the copy of the Islamic holy book.

Images posted online by local Muslim councillor Akef Akbar showed the extremely limited extent of the damage, which appeared to consist of a very small tear to its cover, slight smudging of the corner of one page, and small indentations to the rear of the book.

KETTLETHORPE HIGH SCHOOL MEETING UPDATE I had a meeting this morning at Kettlethorpe High with the Headteacher Mr…

Posted by Cllr Akef Akbar on Friday, February 24, 2023

The councillor, a former member of Britain’s governing’s Conservative Party before leaving over the actions of then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson, emphasised that circulating descriptions of the Qur’an being burned were not true — although he had himself initially spread rumours on social media that it had been “disintegrated”.

According to a report by the BBC, despite the damage of the book being said to have not been “malicious” in nature, it appears to have greatly angered the Muslim community, with a number of meetings being held with senior clerics in the area over the actions of the pupils.

One imam was keen to emphasise to Muslim locals that their attendance was required at a meeting between the Muslim community and the parents of one of the boys involved, as well as police officials and the principal of the school.

“This is not a small matter for us,” the imam remarked. “This is the word of Allah almighty, the divine book of Allah almighty, which requires each and every one of you to attend, and ensure your presence today at 5pm inshallah.”

At the meeting, this same imam later confirmed that at least 30 students had been interviewed in relation to the incident, and that CCTV footage was being examined by authorities in order to come to an understanding of what exactly happened to the book.

“The slightest bit of disrespect is not accepted, and it is not going to be tolerated at any point, in any city, in any country by any Muslim, and that’s the fact of the matter,” the imam said during the livestreamed meeting.

The event was punctuated by a number of chants of “Allahu Akbar” during the event. This included just before the mother of the autistic boy said to be involved in the incident spoke to the congregation in order to apologise.

Describing both herself and her son as being very remorseful, the mother claimed that her son has received multiple death threats as a result of the Qur’an’s damaging — threats which the police are not investigating, according to conservative academic and commentator Adrian Hilton.

The petrified mother herself felt obliged to grovel that she does not want to see any of those responsible for threatening her son prosecuted, as the threats were brought about “because of the stupidity of my son and his friends”.

The mother wore a headscarf throughout the proceedings of the event, with the women attending the meeting only being let in through the mosque’s fire exits partway into the public event.

Another event that is set to take place at the same mosque later this week regarding the incident will also be sex-segregated, with the imam saying that the planned talk will “have separate facilities for the ladies and for the men”.

Both the imam and Councillor Akbar put some emphasis on local Muslims only responding to the issue peacefully — though they helped to publicise and inflame the incident into a major event in the first place — with the former Tory telling the community to remember the age of those involved.

“We’re not dealing with the EDL [English Defence League], we’re dealing with 14-year-old children,” he said, attempting to pose as a voice of reason.

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