A British Teenager Receives Death Threats for Dropping a Quran—and Gets Suspended from School

On a dare involving three of his friends, an autistic student at a British high school brought a copy of Quran into school last week. One of the four then inadvertently dropped the book, damaging it slightly, and the whole group was suspended as punishment. Two days later, the school’s principal, a police officer, a member of the municipal council, and a local imam gathered to address the incident at a local mosque—where the imam proceeded to proclaim, “We will never tolerate disrespect of the holy Quran, never! We will sacrifice our lives for it.” Tom Slater comments:

While rumors swirled that the book had been burnt and spat on—in truth, it was barely damaged—the autistic boy at the center of it all began to receive death threats. Yes, death threats—which, unlike disrespecting holy books, are actually (and legitimately) a criminal matter in the United Kingdom. But the students who issued these threats are off the hook. Akef Akbar, [the town council member], made this clear at the Friday meeting, while sitting next to the mother of the autistic student. “To her credit,” Akbar said, “she understands the situation and has advised the police that she does not want any of these children [who sent threats to her son] to be prosecuted, and she only asks that her son is not harmed.” “He’s absolutely petrified,” the mother, who is unnamed, told the meeting later on: “But I don’t want anybody to be prosecuted because of the stupidity of my son and his friends.”

This is chilling. This mother was effectively begging for her son’s safety, while the school and police were apparently more concerned about protecting religious bigots’ hurt feelings. Indeed, the response of the school and police runs the risk of contributing to the threat posed to these boys. By suspending those students and logging their behavior as a “hate incident,” the school and police are effectively saying that the mob has a point—that the boys should be punished for “disrespecting” Islam’s holy book.

Here’s the thing. The more we capitulate to religious bigotry the more we inflame it.

Read more at Spiked

More about: European Islam, Freedom of Religion, Quran, United Kingdom

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict