Parents whose protest against Leeds school went viral vow to continue campaign

The protest took place last week outside Co-op Academy Oakwood

A Muslim family whose protest outside a Leeds school went viral on social media have pledged to continue their campaign.

Zarinullah Khwajeh and Samaira Kauser allege bullying, abuse and Islamophobia have taken place against their children at the Co-op Academy Oakwood, allegations the primary school strongly denies.

5Pillars obtained a copy of the couple’s formal complaint, sent to the school by Mr Khwajeh on 24th October, listing various extremely serious accusations.

The complaint alleges that the school failed to address the accusations, saying: “In the last few years, we have seen quite a few serious incidents occurring to our children, I have raised concerns with the class teachers and the Head Teacher and have felt they are not dealing with any of our complaints appropriately.”

The dispute between the family and school escalated last week after the family chose to take their anger public, protesting outside the school with posters and banners on October 22/23.

These protests were then filmed and shared by spectators on social media platforms such as Facebook. The footage later went viral and the story was spread by other platforms including YappApp on October 25th.

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The parents have informed 5Pillars that all five of their children have been taken out of the school since October 18, sighting fears over their safety.

Speaking to 5Pillars, Samaira Kauser explained the distress her daughter has faced since the alleged bullying began.

“My daughter Zara is having nightmares. Our children are suggesting we migrate to another country to escape from this discrimination and abuse. You can speak to my daughter; you can hear it from her mouth about escaping the country.”

Mrs Kauser also said the family has received racist and Islamophobic abuse since the story went viral.

School response

In response to the accusations, the school issued a statement rejecting the claims.

“We’re an inclusive school. Any complaint or issue raised by a parent or member of our community is dealt with seriously and in line with our policies and procedures. Since this issue was raised we have worked with the local authority safeguarding teams, local police and Leeds City Council. We have rigorously investigated the claim made by one family.

“Boys and girls in our school learn together. We expect all our students to be themselves always, embrace and respect each other’s cultural beliefs and integrate accordingly.”

In regards to the social media videos, the school claimed that many of the things being shared on social media were “wholly untrue,” and asked the public not to share anything that “continues to put the safety of young children and our staff at risk.”

The school also sent parents a letter on October 24 informing them of a ban on Mr Khwajeh from entering school property over alleged “aggressive behaviour” during the protests.

The parents reject the school’s interpretation of events, claiming Mr Khwajeh was standing away from the school on public land and was himself subjected to “racist abuse” from onlookers.

They also informed 5Pillars that police spoke to them on October 28 about an ongoing investigation into the alleged physical assault on their daughter at the school.

They are also planning further protests away from the school, with the next due to take place in Leeds City Centre on Saturday.

5Pillars contacted Co-op Academy Oakwood for further reaction; however, they chose not to add any further comments to their earlier statement.

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