An autistic Year 10 (or equivalent to Grade 9 in the US) student from Wakefield, England, was dismissed from his school and bombarded with death threats after an event where a Quran was allegedly “disrespected.”
Boy who 'dropped a copy of the Quran at UK school' receives death threats https://t.co/ZosIO4hBH9
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) March 2, 2023
The incident started with a wager after the unnamed 14-year-old student played Call of Duty with his friends. The winner could tell the loser what to buy or do. In this case, the autistic student lost the wage and was told to buy a copy of the Quran. He complied and purchased the holy book from Amazon.
The autistic student then brought the Quran inside the premises of Kettlethorpe High School and gave it to another student, who recited a passage from the book to other students on a tennis court. It was also revealed that an unrelated boy knocked the Quran off the student’s hands, causing it to fall on the floor.
Afterward, the autistic student picked up the Quran and placed it in his bag. Soon after, rumors quickly spread that the Quran was thrown around, spat at, and even burned. They were refuted by Akef Akbar, an independent Muslim councilor for East Wakefield, who posted photos of the Quran on Instagram with a caption narrating the incident.
Police record "hate incident" after autistic boy drops Quran in busy school corridor - as four pupils suspended over false rumour that it was set alighthttps://t.co/nFGOL74lVM
— LBC (@LBC) March 1, 2023
Four students were suspended for a week since they were “believed to have crossed the line.” The local community set up a meeting to discuss the events that occurred and to put the city’s Muslim community at ease. The assembly happened at Jamia Masjid Swafia, a mosque in Wakefield.
People who participated in the meeting include Imam Hafiz Muhammad Mateen Anwar, Inspector Glen Costello, Chief Inspector Andy Thornton, Kettlethrope High School headteacher Tudor Griffiths, councilor Akef Akbar, and the mother of the autistic student. The mosque’s congregation, including the parents of the high school students, was also in attendance.
The meeting recalled the events that led to the incident. The imam and councilor emphasized the student’s condition to soothe the local Muslim community. The Imam acknowledged that it is wrong for Muslims to respond to disrespect of the Quran with threats of physical violence.
A Qur’an was slightly scuffed, with no malicious intent by an autistic child in school.
He has received death threats. The mother, quite clearly, doesn’t want to press charges, presumably in fear of a harsher backlash.
Is this modern day Britain with defacto blasphemy laws? pic.twitter.com/qnzCHnlLcq
— Wasiq Wasiq (@WasiqUK) February 26, 2023
The student’s mother used the meeting to apologize to the local Muslim community on his behalf and explain how the incident affected him.
“He hadn't eaten since Wednesday afternoon when this occurred because, with his autism, it's put his anxiety to a level where he is beside himself. He’s very, very sorry,” the student’s mother said.
Humanists UK condemned the decision to suspend the students involved in the incident, saying it was “horrendous” for the school to be “pressured into excessive disciplinary action by a religious group.”
This story is horrendous. There is no blasphemy law in Great Britain and schools should not be pressured by religious groups into retaliatory acts against pupils. We are calling on the UK Government to make a firm statement of support for the children in this case.
— Humanists UK (@Humanists_UK) February 27, 2023
The UK’s Home Secretary Suella Braverman also expressed concern over the incident after authorities intervened over the “slight damage.”
"The Home Secretary is clear that the police response should always be proportionate and consider the welfare of young children as a priority over any perceived insults.” a source close to the Home Secretary said.