Police launch investigation into 'bomb threats' against primary school accused of Islamophobia after banning pupils from wearing pro-Palestine badges

Saturday, January 20, 2024
 – The Metropolitan Police has launched an investigation into bomb threats against a primary school accused of Islamophobia for banning pupils from wearing pro-Palestine badges.

Barclay Primary School in Leyton, East London told parents last week that it may have to revert to online learning after it received bomb threats following a decision to ban students from wearing pro-Palestine badges.

The Met's area commander Simon Crick says the force is treating those threats as credible, and has stepped up foot patrols in the area in a bid to reassure residents.

Barclay Primary was picketed by protesters in December after a viral TikTok video claimed an eight-year-old pupil at the school was bullied by a teacher 'for being Palestinian' – a claim furiously rebuffed by education bosses.

The video claimed that the youngster, whose mother is from Gaza, was reprimanded for wearing a Palestine badge on his coat and that he was 'denied playtime and lunchtime privileges'.

The school has categorically denied the claims of bullying; investigations, both internal and external, found them to be 'false', it said in a letter to parents earlier this month.

The row first erupted when some pupils used a Children in Need mufti day to show their support for Palestine with flags, badges, and stickers.

The school later confirmed that a letter was then sent to eight families - out of a school of 1,325 students - warning that 'inappropriate comments made at school including extremist or divisive comments' would result in formal meetings with senior figures.

The note also said it could potentially lead to referrals to the Government's counter-terrorism programme, Prevent, or Waltham Forest's Hate Crime Team.

TikToker Zaki then posted a video, in which he told followers: 'Barclay Primary School is basically saying that if you support Palestine, you're going to become a terrorist - or you already are one.'

The father of the boy allegedly told not to wear a Palestine badge later claimed to BBC News that the youngster had been 'traumatised' after the school asked pupils not to wear political symbols.

Earlier this month, Barclay Primary heads said they had received arson threats over accusations that the school was being Islamophobic, while other teachers speaking on condition of anonymity told the Telegraph bomb threats had been made against the institution.

In a letter to parents dated January 10, the Lion Academy Trust, which runs the school, said: 'Over the Christmas period, a serious threat was received in writing.

'This was immediately shared with police and was a key initial reason for the escalation in response.

'Yesterday, an anonymous caller made a series of racial slurs and a further threat to commit criminal damage (arson) against the school and to individual staff.

'The presumably unintended consequence of spreading factually incorrect material online and in-person is that the school is now facing threats which surely no reasonable person would condone.'

The trust said staff had reported being videoed by passing drivers, and faced 'aggressive and confrontational' interactions with members of the public.

As a result, the school has recruited private security, closed its reception area to the public and to parents, and says it will no longer respond to queries from parents about the allegations concerning the Palestinian child.

If the situation does not improve, the trust says it will be forced to close the school, adding: 'This the option of last resort - but please be aware that should staff continue to be threatened - then we will have no option.

'Additionally, if any parent or individual is proven to be involved in instigating this campaign against the school, via their actions online in-person, we will act to ban those individuals from attending the site(s).'

The Met now says it is investigating the warnings and taking them seriously.

Chief superintendent Simon Crick, policing commander for north-east London, said:'We are taking these threats incredibly seriously and would like to reassure pupils, teachers and parents that we are doing everything in our power to keep you safe while our investigation continues.

'Hate crime will not be tolerated in London and we will take action against those who commit offences and pose a threat to communities.'

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