Al Jazeera

Play about radicalisation in schools cancelled a week after police ‘asked to see script’

The creators of a play examining issues of Islamic extremism and radicalisation in a London school that was mysteriously cancelled earlier this month have described how police officers asked to see a copy of the script and told producers they planned to place undercover officers in the audience.

homegrown

Homegrown had been heavily promoted by the National Youth Theatre which still features actors from the play on its homepage.

‘Homegrown’ was partially inspired by the case of three schoolgirls from East London who ran away to Syria in February and had been marketed as one of the highlights of the National Youth Theatre’s 2015 season prior to its abrupt cancellation just 10 days before its opening night.

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Al Jazeera

Schoolboy accused of extremism over pro-Palestine views

Schoolchildren in the UK who express support for Palestine face being questioned by police and referred into a counter-radicalisation programme for youngsters deemed at risk of being drawn into terrorism under controversial new laws requiring teachers to monitor students for extremism.

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‘Free Palestine’ badges were described as “extremist badges” by a Prevent officer. [www.palestinecampaign.org]

One schoolboy said he was accused of holding “radical” and “terrorist-like” views by a police officer who questioned him for taking leaflets into school promoting a boycott of Israel during last year’s war in Gaza.

The case reflects concerns raised by teachers and students and also in Muslim communities about the expansion of the government’s divisive Prevent counter-extremism strategy into schools, with critics complaining that teachers are being expected to act as the “eyes and ears of the state”.

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Al Jazeera

‘Folk devils’: Anti-Muslim prejudice still rife 10 years on from London bombings

“I was preparing myself for death. I was thinking, ‘This is it. Today is the day that I die’.”

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An image of the bomb-shattered bus shown to the court during an inquest into the 2005 attacks.

A loud bang, human bodies tossed around as an explosion-shattered train jerks to a halt deep underground, black smoke, darkness and the sound of screaming. Those are Sajda Mughal’s memories of the morning commute to her London office 10 years ago on July 7, 2005.

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Al Jazeera

Former child domestic worker leads fight against exploitation

“I was supposed to be the first one awake to get the children up and send them to school, and then take care of the household chores. And then I was the last one to bed at night.”

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Angel Benedicto is drawing on her own experiences to help other child domestic workers to build lives for themselves (Photo: Simon Hooper)

Angel Benedicto’s account of her daily routine as a household servant in Tanzania echoes the bleak experiences of exploited domestic workers in many parts of the world, but with one further dismal detail: even as she was expected to care for the children of the family for whom she worked, Angel was still only a child herself.

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Al Jazeera

‘We have a clear enemy’: Thousands march against Tory austerity plans

London, United Kingdom – Activists and trade union leaders have called for a general strike and a mass campaign of civil disobedience to bring down the country’s new right-wing government as hundreds of thousands took to the streets of London and other cities to protest against austerity and public service cuts.

Organisers said a quarter of a million people had joined Saturday’s march from the Bank of England to the Houses of Parliament, with smaller protests also taking place in Glasgow, Liverpool, and Bristol, and pledged the event was only a beginning.

“We’ve got to get rid of this government quicker than five years. This government cannot last the full term,” Sam Fairbairn, national secretary of the People’s Assembly, the anti-austerity campaign group that organised the march, told a rally in Parliament Square.

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Al Jazeera

Police blockade Magna Carta-inspired ‘festival for democracy’

London, United Kingdom – Police have attempted to shut down a “festival for democracy” at an eco-village overlooking a site where dignitaries including the Queen gather on Monday for official events to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta.

The festival was planned by the residents of Runnymede Eco-Village, a community established three years ago in an area of neglected forest on the edge of London within a few hundred metres of the spot where the celebrated document – considered by many a symbol of civil liberties and the principle of equality under law – was signed in 1215.

Organisers and participants said the event, which included talks by academics and political activists as well as music and workshops, was a necessary alternative to the official programme that included a river pageant along the Thames, and the erection of a four-metre bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s hereditary head of state.

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Al Jazeera

Protests, anger and ‘constitutional crisis’: UK facing ‘rocky ride’ as Tories claim power

London, United Kingdom – Democracy campaigners and victims and opponents of austerity policies are planning a wave of protest, occupations and direct action amid widespread anger at the return to power of the country’s right-wing Conservative Party and warnings the UK is on its “last legs”.

Occupy activists pose with a proposed republican English flag [Simon Hooper]

Occupy activists pose in front of the Houses of Parliament with a proposed republican English flag [Simon Hooper]

The Conservatives, led by David Cameron, the prime minister since 2010, claimed an unexpected victory in national elections earlier in the month by winning a small parliamentary majority despite gaining the support of less than a quarter of eligible voters, and just 37 percent of votes actually cast.

That result triggered immediate anger on the streets with police clashing with protesters who converged on Downing Street, the prime minister’s London residence, carrying signs reading “I pledge to resist!” and “Stop the cuts!”; a reference to the Conservatives’ unpopular neoliberal austerity policies.

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