British schoolgirl expelled from speaking contest for pro-Palestinian speech
A British-Palestinian schoolgirl has been expelled from a youth speaking competition after organisers received complaints about the girl's pro-Palestinian entry.
Leanne Mohamed, a 15-year-old student at Wanstead High School in London, was prevented from going onto the next stage of the contest after winning a regional final of the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge with her speech "Birds not Bombs".
In her speech, the teenager describes the historical and contemporary reality for Palestinian children under Israeli occupation.
"How would you feel if you were woken every morning by bombs and not birds?" Leanne questioned in her speech.
"How would you feel if you didn't even feel safe in your own home? How would you feel if you witness your own family die in front of you?"
However, an anti-Palestinian blogger, who has previously praised the leader of the British far-right English Defence League, wrote to the CEO of the Speakers Trust, the organisation running the competition, complaining about the content of the young girl's speech.
The Speakers Trust and Jack Petchey Foundation judging panel decided to expel Leanne from the contest, saying she had breached two of its rules: that "the speech must have a positive and uplifting message", and that "a speaker should never inflame or offend the audience or insult others."
Leanne reacted to the news of her expulsion by tweeting: "Why is it called a 'Speak Out Challenge' when I am then silenced."
Leanne has also received a barrage of abuse on social media by anti-Palestinian users, which has prompted the 15-year-old to contact the police.