London - A new analysis by CAGE International reveals an alarming increase in the number and types of cases involving an attack on expressions of support and solidarity for Palestine across the UK.
CAGE International notes a 455% increase in the number of cases it has handled since the last upsurge in 2021. Between October and December 2023, CAGE International handled 214 cases, spanning 118 school and college cases, 35 workplace cases, 35 protest and related cases, 13 university cases, and 13 mosque cases.
This substantial rise signifies a broad and alarming clampdown of pro-Palestinian activity. The report also includes five case examples that illustrate the adverse impact on individuals, including children.
Our casework observations provide evidence of a full-spectrum coordinated attack instigated by right-wing interests, mainstream media, politicians, and lobby groups. This represents a wholesale assault on the Freedom of Expression under Article 10 and Right to Privacy under Article 8 of the ECHR.
The report outlines various aggressive tactics employed in the repression of Palestine solidarity, including:
- Enforcing removal of Palestine symbols or clothing in schools and workplaces.
- Holding students in isolation rooms and imposing suspensions and exclusions.
- Disciplinary actions against parents and students
- Criminal investigations, suspensions, and immediate terminations in workplaces.
- Gross misquotations of Imams in media outlets leading to Charity Commission investigations.
- Abuse of anti -terrorism powers at protests.
- An aggressive and authoritarian response from the government to legitimate activism in support of Palestine.
- A disturbing double standard compared to the government's responses to the Russia-Ukraine conflict revealing hypocrisy in public spaces, schools, and workplaces.
- The Islamophobic nature of censorship, with 209 out of the 214 cases involving Muslims.
- The weoponising of PREVENT and PREVENT referrals in suppressing support for Palestine.
- A consistent pattern nationwide across towns and cities, from Newcastle to Portsmouth.
Yassar Mohammed, a youth worker who supported a Palestinian student removed from class for a pro Palestine shirt on non-uniform day said:
“The whole community was outraged and the support and advice we received from CAGE got us more than what we asked for. We finally had closure and the school reversed its policies and apologised. It was a massive victory for us
Schools and workplaces should be more tolerant. Our rights as Muslims are always violated, we simply want to be treated the same as any other person in the UK. Fairness is all we want.”
‘William’, a teacher who lost his job for expressing pro Palestine views said:
“I felt betrayed and abandoned by my school. I felt scapegoated just because I am a revert to Islam. It crushes my soul to know first-hand that my school thinks absolutely nothing of a literal genocide.
'Schools must stop saying they are impartial when they are in fact partial, for Israel. Staff must be allowed to think what they want as long as it abides by the law. We must stop censoring Muslims.'
Rasha, a Palestinian mother of an 8 year old child in an East London primary school, who was pulled out of classes, placed on detention and effectively bullied out of school for wearing a Palestine badge on his jacket, said:
“Our child has been traumatised by this experience. He has lost sleep and confidence, has felt hated and bullied and no longer trusts his own teachers who should have been understanding and compassionate. Whilst dealing with the grief and sadness of losing our direct family members in Gaza, we did not expect grief and pain would land at our doorstep from my child’s own teachers. We have been shocked beyond belief to realise that the school’s management have made it no longer a space for our child or anyone supporting Palestine.
We are told about diversity and inclusion as British Values, all we’ve seen is a double standard. We believe the Headteacher must resign, the school must rebuild trust and my child is given all the support to help him recover.”
Anas Mustapha, head of Public Advocacy at CAGE International, said:
“The repression faced by our clients for their solidarity with Palestine is a reflection of the systemic Islamophobia, racism, and anti-Palestinian discrimination prevalent in segments of society and government.
“We’re witnessing high levels of repression of Palestine Solidarity, with employers, teachers and Police acting upon prejudice and increasingly disturbing levels of irrational intolerance.”
“The hostile environment created by the state has incentivised harsh penalties being imposed by the police, schools, universities, central and local government, as well as employers.”
“Through our support, we’ve managed to resolve the vast majority of cases we’ve handled and in many we’ve successfully overturned the penalties imposed and even secured apologies.”
Image Alisdare Hickson courtesy of Flikr