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Islington Council to challenge Prevent scheme in wake of ‘eco-terror’ incident

15:58 16 October 2015

Cllr Caroline Russell

Cllr Caroline Russell

Archant

Islington Council will lobby the government to change its counter-extremism scheme in schools, which one opposition member called “crude box ticking”.

It comes after a Muslim pupil at Central Foundation Boys’ School was taken out of class and questioned about the so-called Islamic State - for saying the term “eco-terrorism” in French.

The boy was questioned as part of the government’s Prevent scheme, which aims to protect children from radicalisation.

It was denounced by Islington NUT, whose joint secretary, Ken Muller, said it was “racist” and “aimed at Muslims”.

At last night’s meeting of the full council in the town hall, Cllr Caroline Russell proposed a motion to work with trade unions, universities and faith groups to request the government changes elements of the programme “that damage community cohesion”.

Green Cllr Russell, the only non-Labour member of the council, also suggested working with schools, governors and faith groups to ensure effective implementation of Prevent. The motion, having been amended by the Labour group, was approved.

Cllr Russell, for Highbury East, said: “Our schools, colleges and universities are grappling with the requirements of this with the threat of Ofsted hanging over them. In an age of cuts and teachers being over-worked, this is potentially counter productive.

“We have just seen a worrying instance at Central Foundation with a pupil expressing concern about the environment in class. This should not have resulted in being questioned about ISIS. He should have been congratulated on the correct use of a French term.”

As reported in the Gazette, the 14-year-old boy had been in a French lesson in May when he mentioned “l’ecoterrorisme” in a discussion about the environment.

A few days later, he was taken out of class and questioned by a child protection officer.

He claims to have been asked if he was “affiliated” with Islamic State, and his parents were said to be taking legal action.

And Cllr Russell said of Prevent: “This is of grave concern for free speech, human rights and community cohesion.

“Islington has an opportunity to show what a consistent approach to tackling extremism would look like, rather than crude box ticking.

“We only have to look to Finsbury Park Mosque for inspiration in how to tackle extremism.”

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