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UK school denies claims of Prevent referrals

UK school Wood Green Academy denies claims they reported Muslim students to Prevent
3 min read
02 December, 2022
UK school Wood Green Academy said it has not reported its students to Prevent following claims that pupils were transferred to the counter-terrorism strategy after an incident involving allegations of homophobia.
The Prevent programme has been accused of targeting Muslims and encouraging Islamophobia [file photo-etty]

A UK school has denied claims that it referred pupils to the Prevent counter-terrorism programme following a clash between staff and students over alleged homophobia. 

The Birmingham-based Wood Green Academy made national headlines this week when a heated exchange between LGBTQ+ campaigner Khakan Qureshi and pupils was recorded on 15 November.

The pupils could be heard challenging Qureshi's views on Islam and questioning how he could be both Muslim and gay. 

A subsequent clip, also widely shared online, showed a teacher lecturing the students about how "tolerance is a two-way street".

He told them there were "plenty of other faith schools where they would accept your point of view". The teacher also made references to 9/11. 

The New Arab however, understands that Wood Green Academy did not refer pupils to the controversial Prevent programme after the incident. 

However, it has also been confirmed by West Midlands police that the school is "working with Prevent to consider the future". 

Prevent is a controversial UK government scheme that "aims to stop people being drawn into terrorist-related activity". It has been widely condemned for disproportionately targeting British Muslim communities.

In a statement sent to The New Arab, Wood Green academy said: "We have initiated an external and independent investigation into this incident and appropriate bodies have been informed.

"Students should know how to discuss and debate issues and ideas in a considered way." 

The local police force said last week they were "taking the matter seriously" but had not yet received a formal complaint. 

The Islamophobia Response Unit - who are working with the local community - said they "received several reports regarding Wood Green Academy, which [they] are currently responding to". 

They did not provide any further comment on this matter. 

Qureshi had visited the school before and was warmly received by pupils.

However, on this occasion, he said a "few hard-core" pupils would not let him finish speaking without questioning his acceptance of being both gay and Muslim, reported the Daily Mail. 

The LGBTQ+ campaigner added that the Wood Green Academy teacher made references to 9/11 because of what he heard in Qureshi’s speech: "I told the audience that there was only one time in my life when I did not identify myself as Muslim, and that was after the 9/11 attacks when Muslims were being discriminated [against] and vilified." 

Qureshi said he had received death threats following the recorded exchange. He shared some of the hateful messages sent to him on his Twitter page.  

West Midlands police said they are aware of the threats against the LGBTQ+ speaker.