Three Muslim students have threatened to file a lawsuit against their secondary school after being suspended for sending an email to the school community that complained of Islamophobia. At Newham Sixth Form College in London, a two-year school designed for students planning to attend university, the three 19-year-olds were banned from the school after sending out the critical email after the administration cancelled a discussion on anti-Muslim attitudes in society, according to the Independent.
The college claims it suspended the girls for misusing the school's email, which requires prior permission before something can be sent out school wide. "These students have been temporarily suspended for an alleged misuse of the college communication system, not because of raising issues about Islamophobia," said principal Eddie Playfair to the Independent. The school "is very committed to fighting all forms of discrimination, including Islamophobia."
The three students--Tahyba Ahmed, Sumayyah Ashraf and Humarya Tasnim--said their suspension occurred at a critical time of review before their A-level exams, which determine placement for British universities, prompting them to seek medical advice on how to deal with stress related to the incident.
"The entire incident has caused us considerable stress and has had a significant impact on us and our families. Our revision has been significantly interrupted and we no longer feel positive about our examination results," the students said in a statement, according to the Independent.
The students' claims of Islamophobia came after the cancellation of a discussion panel that included a Muslim journalist and a local politician that was slated to take place May 6. The panel was cancelled, the students claim, amid concerns about the views of a panel member, reports the Independent.
The potential lawsuit and claims of Islamophobia center in part around the students' opposition to the U.K.'s anti-radicalization strategy, Prevent, according to the Independent. Prevent was introduced as a counter-terrorism strategy in recent years to minimize the number of homegrown terrorists by monitoring communities seen to be as susceptible to extremism. Critics describe the program as a form of discrimination against Muslim citizens.
Dal Babu, a former chief superintendent who is also Muslim, said on Radio 4's Today program in March that counter-extremism officials "should not be putting the Muslim community in a separate box when it comes to safeguarding young people," reported the Guardian.