Al Jazeera

Radicalisation monitoring software for schools lists Muslim activists as extremists

School children in the UK who search for words such as ‘caliphate’ and the names of Muslim political activists on classroom computers risk being flagged up as potential supporters of terrorism by monitoring software being marketed to teachers to help them spot students at risk of radicalisation.

[academyschools.blog.gov.uk]

[academyschools.blog.gov.uk]

The radicalisation keywords library has been developed by software company Impero as an add-on to its existing Education Pro digital classroom management tool to help schools comply with new duties requiring them to monitor children for extremism as part of the government’s Prevent counter-terrorism strategy.

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Al Jazeera

Toddlers targeted by UK ‘1984’-style anti-terror laws

Childcare workers in the UK are being encouraged to play the music of Freddie Mercury to babies and toddlers in their care in order to demonstrate their compliance with anti-terrorism laws requiring them to “actively promote British values”.

freddie mercury

Flying the flag for ‘British values’: Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar in 1946.

The suggestion can be found on an advice page for childminders published by an influential childcare website to help them fulfil new regulations introduced this month as part of the government’s controversial Prevent counter-terrorism strategy.

The requirements, which also affect nurseries and schools, place a statutory duty on childcare providers to report children who they believe may be susceptible to “radicalisation and extremism”, prompting some to liken the situation to ‘1984’, George Orwell’s novel about a totalitarian surveillance state.

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Middle East Eye

UK arts officials raised censorship concerns over cancelled ‘jihadi play’

Senior figures at Arts Council England, the UK’s main arts funding body, raised concerns that the controversial cancellation of a play about radicalisation amounted to censorship and discussed whether they should step in to “help find a way to get this play shown”, newly released emails have shown.

homegrown

The emails, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, also reveal criticism of the National Youth Theatre over its handling of ‘Homegrown’, a production set and staged in a London school which had been promoted as a highlight of the company’s summer season until its abrupt cancellation just days before its opening night.

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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.

free palestine badges

‘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

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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