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East London boy wins £3.5K payout after teachers wrongly report him for supporting ISIS

Tower Hamlets Council in London has paid £3,500 in compensation to an 8-year-old boy after teachers reported him to social services because they wrongly believed he was an ISIS supporter. The alarm was raised when the boy turned up to class wearing a T-shirt with the slogan: “I want to be like Abu Bakr al-Siddique,” the successor to the Prophet Muhammad (saw). But due to their ignorance of Islamic history, teachers thought the T-shirt expressed support for ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Read more

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Teachers as informants: countering extremism and promoting violence

This article is a response to Muslim students reporting that they had been silenced by fear of the PREVENT Counter-Terrorism Strategy. By adopting a Critical Realist stance, real generative mechanisms of this actual phenomenon are investigated and theorised. Recognition of changing definitions of both ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’ in different versions of PREVENT results in the discursive aspect of these real generative mechanisms being investigated using critical discourse analysis (CDA). This analysis identifies the emergence of a violent discourse of ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’ (RadEx) that it is theorised has the capacity to promote rather than prevent violence. Finally, a process by which this production of violence in the classroom might have been avoided is explored and this indicates that critique of government efforts to counter ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’ is a vital aspect of pedagogy in the context of PREVENT and the War on Terror. Read more

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If we want students to feel safe at school, we can’t encourage teachers to spot potential extremist

In the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attack, former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair told a global education forum extremism should be treated as a global problem like climate change. He said: there should be an international agreement to put teaching against extremism into education systems around the world. Following terrorist attacks, it’s understandable politicians want to come up with quick, tangible measures to prevent other incidents and to tackle the problem at what is seen to be its core. There is merit in Blair saying challenging prejudice “needs to begin at an early age” (in schools). But we must also be cautious when promoting kneejerk responses to complex issues, particularly when it involves the welfare and future of children. Read more