Faizel Patel, 2016-06-01
The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) says it is outraged after a Palestinian contestant was removed from a national speaking competition because of the anti-Zionist content of her winning speech.
Leanne Mohamad was removed from the ‘Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge’ hosted by Speakers’ Trust last week after a three and a half minute presentation that dealt with the injustice and discrimination faced by Palestinians since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
IHRC says it is has written to the Speakers’ Trust expressing anger over Mohamad’s removal saying it believes that the decision flies in the face of the stated ethos underlying the competition which allows participants to “speak on any topic they feel strongly about.
Spokesperson Masood Shadjarah says the removal of Mohamad is insult to the ‘Speakers’ Trust when its whole concept is the promotion of the freedom of speech.
“It really is outrageous because the whole aspect of this is to get people coming forward and expressing themselves and this Palestinian young girl cannot do that and is forbidden expressing herself.”
Shadjarah says the IHRC’s letter raised concerns about reports that the decision was prompted by complaints from the notorious anti-Palestine blogger, Edgar Davidson who is on public record calling “Palestinians are a fake creation” and also praising Tommy Robinson, the founder of the neo-Nazi English Defence League, as “simply a British patriot.”
“We shouldn’t be surprised that people like him and others are actually raising the issue. What we are really surprised at is the fact that three other organisations have given in to this bizarre sort of complaints.”
The removal of Mohamad means that despite winning the regional final she will no longer be able to proceed to the national final.
IHRC has called on the Speakers’ Trust to review its decision both to protect Mohamad’s freedom of speech and also to protect the reputation of a competition billed as ‘the world’s biggest youth speaking event.’