• Community rejects division
  • Cuts only create more problems
Marching against racism, 17.11.18, photo Mary Finch

Marching against racism, 17.11.18, photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Huddersfield Socialist Party

There’s been an outpouring of grief and anger as the video showing the bullying incident of Syrian refugee, Jamal, at Almondbury School in Huddersfield went viral.

The video has now been watched millions of times online and resulted in around £150,000 being raised through a funding page to help the stricken family.

It has since come to light that Jamal’s sister has also been attacked and had her veil forcibly removed by other pupils.

The incident happened in October and Jamal sustained a fractured wrist from previous assaults. He had written to Ofsted, the Department of Education, councillors, police and his MP asking for help, but still felt unsupported and the family has now decided neither pupil will be returning to school.

The incident has revealed the anger in response to racist bullying. Jamal has spoken out through his solicitor appealing to people not to harm his attacker, whose home is now under police protection following vigilante-style attacks on it.

Local Muslim elders and community leaders have appealed for calm and asked that the authorities, who have so far failed Jamal, be left to deal with the matter.

But this cannot be a recipe for inaction by working-class people in the community, leaving the field to far-right racist Tommy Robinson intervening with a calculated provocation.

He claimed that Jamal had been involved in an attack on a young female at the school. Her mother has intervened on Tommy Robinson’s Facebook post telling him he is wrong and demanding he take the post down.

It seems these racists will go to any lengths to stir-up community tension. Jamal’s family is now taking legal action against Tommy Robinson.

In Huddersfield, the local community has shown great support for Jamal, with parents protesting outside the school seeking reassurances about pupil safety and against racism.

This incident has uncovered racist and bullying issues in our schools. These will not be resolved with arbitrary exclusions but require a more coordinated approach.

Education cuts and the decimation of youth services will mean that such incidents are likely to resurface.

Almondbury School has massively reduced pastoral support for pupils. The school is struggling to maintain pupil numbers and will now face further problems following this publicity.

The threat of an Ofsted report and the cuts that can bring in its wake will exacerbate the situation.

The Socialist Party stands with Jamal and his family in solidarity against racist bullying. We are repeating our calls on the local trade unions and the rest of the movement to fight for a reversal of education and youth-service cuts.

Our local schools are suffering from acute underfunding and a whole generation of young people are cut adrift from access to decent jobs, homes and services.

Huddersfield Socialist Party is launching a solidarity campaign with education staff balloting for strike action against school cuts, and we will also now be taking up the wider issues of jobs and homes for all to cut across the whipping up of racist divisions.