Four Year 10 children have been suspended after a Quran was desecrated in a school in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
Local councillor Akef Akbar said the incident occurred at Kettlethorpe High School on Wednesday and has caused “huge uproar” in the Muslim community.
He held a meeting this morning with Headteacher Tudor Griffiths, the local police chief, fellow councillors and representatives of the local masjid.
He said: “On Wednesday an incident took place involving the Holy Quran. A number of boys from year 10 aged around 14 were playing a game ‘Call of Duty’ and a losing bet was for the boy in question to buy a Quran. He purchased the Quran on Amazon and bought it on the school premises.
“Initially it was reported that the Quran was kicked around the school. The school carried out a formal investigation and I am told that 30 students were interviewed one to one. Their investigations have found that the Quran was read out on the tennis courts. The Quran was carried inside the school and it is purported that an unrelated boy knocked it out of the boy’s hand and it fell on the floor. The school deny that it was spat on or thrown around.
“Four students have been suspended from school as they are believed to have crossed the line. The school have full support from the families who are deeply shocked. I can categorically say that rumours on social media that the Quran was burnt are untrue.
“I have inspected the Quran in question personally. It was purchased on Amazon and has the mark at back for Amazon. The Quran is alhamdullilah in one piece. There is a very slight tear on the cover. A further small mud mark on page 2. Further, they are indents on the bottom of the Quran…
“This is indicative that the Quran may have been thrown around and not just dropped in a corridor as stated. I have asked the school to carry out a more thorough investigation. I would hate to see that this incident is being watered down. The school have agreed to carry out further investigations working alongside the mosques of Wakefield and Hafiz Muhammad Mateen Anwar.
“The police have recorded a hate incident but are allowing the school to take lead on this matter. I find concerning that a similar incident has occurred in the past at the school involving a Bible, although the school state that this has only just come to their attention.”
Another local councillor, Usman Ali, described the desecration as “serious provocative action which needs too be dealt with urgently by all the authorities, namely, the police, the school and the local authority.”
He said: “This terrible action could destroy all the good progress that has been made in Wakefield to tackle and highlight Islamophobia… we all need to work together to make sure that this terrible provocation does not set back community relations for years to come.”
5Pillars contacted Kettlethorpe High School earlier today but we have yet to receive a response.
However, a meeting took place at the local masjid on Friday evening which was attended by the headteacher, local police and community representatives.
Headteacher T Griffiths described the incident as “a very serious matter” and “a sad day.” He pledged that “if more consequences need to follow that will be the case.”
Chief Superintendent Andy Thornton said a hate incident had been recorded and he would look to support the school.
But he added that to call this criminal was wrong and that it should be an educational opportunity.
He said kids of around 14 years old – some with autism and some with lack of appreciation of what they were doing – had committed the acts.
Earlier, headteacher Mr Griffiths said in a statement: “We would like to reassure all our community that the holy book remains fully intact and that our initial enquiries indicate there was no malicious intent by those involved.
“However, we have made it very clear that their actions did not treat the Quran with the respect it should have, so those involved have been suspended and we will be working with them to ensure they understand why their actions were unacceptable.
“This morning, we met with our local Muslim community leaders, local councillors and police to share all the information we currently know, the action taken and the immediate steps we have taken to reinforce the values and behaviour we expect from every member of this school community to ensure that all religions are respected.”
A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police said they were “liaising” with the school.
“Initial enquiries have confirmed minor damage was caused to the text and officers are continuing to work closely with the school,” they added.