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Dhaka Tribune

Police speak to Muslim boy, 10, over spelling error

Update : 20 Jan 2016, 08:54 AM

A simple spelling mistake has led to a 10-year-old Muslim boy being interviewed by British police over suspected links to terrorism.

The boy, who lives in Accrington in Lancashire, wrote in his primary school English class that he lived in a “terrorist house”. He meant to write “terraced house”.

His teachers did not realise it was a spelling error and instead reported the boy to the police, in accordance with the 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, which states that teachers are obliged to alert the authorities to any suspected terrorist behaviour.

As a result, the child was interviewed on 7 December by police and the authorities examined a laptop found at his family home.

His family has since demanded the school and police apologise, according to the BBC.

A cousin of the boy, who has not been named to protect his identity, said his relatives initially thought it was a joke, but that the boy had been traumatised by the experience.

“You can imagine it happening to a 30-year-old man, but not to a young child,” she told the BBC. “If the teacher had any concerns it should have been about his spelling.

“They shouldn’t be putting a child through this.

“He’s now scared of writing, using his imagination.”

The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, which came into force in July 2015 as part of the government’s anti-radicalisation strategy, Prevent, places local authorities, prisons, NHS trusts and schools under a new statutory duty to prevent extremist radicalisation taking place within their walls.

Critics of the act argue it forces teachers to over-react, rather than using their common sense, for fear of breaking the law.

Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, the UK’s largest umbrella group for Islamic associations, said he was aware of dozens of similar cases taking place in schools around the country.

“There are huge concerns that individuals going about their daily life are being seen through the lens of security and are being seen as potential terrorists rather than students,” he said.

Lancashire police said in a statement the situation was handled by a PC and social services and that anti-terrorism police were not called in.

The school told the BBC it was unable to comment because it was investigating a complaint over the incident.

This article was first published in the Guardian

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