The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) champions the brave step taken by alumni of the London Academy of Excellence (LAE) to speak out against the Islamophobia that they have experienced during their time at LAE. FOSIS supports the campaign that is being led by the courageous alumni students and is a proud signatory to the five demands outlined in their open letter.
- A reversal of the decision made by the LAE governing body in 2015 regarding the removal of the on-site prayer facilities that allowed communal prayers;
- Appropriate remedies to policies and processes within the Sixth Form;
- As a result of the investigation, proportionate action to be taken against staff that is found to have been Islamophobic and failed in their duty of care towards LAE pupils;
- A full and unreserved apology to LAE pupils and alumni, concerned individuals and the wider Muslim community;
- A commitment to address institutional Islamophobia and to build an inclusive environment for Muslim students at LAE, in line with the Equalities Act 2010.
FOSIS focuses on advocating for Muslim students and their right to religious practice and worship. FOSIS understands that the decision undertaken by the Board of Governors regarding the removal of on-site prayer facilities was used as the basis for senior staff to routinely sanction any student seen praying on-site and dismiss countless proposals submitted by students requesting a prayer room. The pattern of cases seen strongly indicates that Islamophobia is institutionalised within the governing body of the college.
As such, Further Education institutions must be reminded that they have a duty to uphold Section 78 of the Education Act 2002 which requires all schools to “promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society”. The reality of Further Education institutions falling short in this responsibility is also reflected by the growing number of cases FOSIS receives relating to issues of Islamophobia and prayer spaces.
In the past year, FOSIS has received a large number of verified testimonials from both current and alumni students of LAE. At this current juncture, we are unable to comment on individual cases, however, we are prepared to engage with an independent community-led investigation and provide evidence to the panel to help bring about accountability and reform.
Through the data FOSIS has compiled, we have been able to establish that 61% of cases highlighted a lack of prayer space accommodation and 50% of cases referenced micro-aggressive comments being made with regards to their faith and practice by LAE staff members. Testimonials received have also mentioned serious and lasting trauma, negative mental health impact as well as feeling “emotionally tortured” and as though exercising their right to practice their religion would “jeopardise any future prospects’’.
The actions of LAE Senior Staff members as described by the alumni are reflective of a climate of institutional Islamophobia fostered by policies such as Prevent. This climate is observed by FOSIS regularly in instances of Islamophobia that we encounter within the wider education space. Muslim students continue to be viewed through the lens of suspicion and paradigm of securitisation whenever they wish to organise or partake in religious worship and faith-based activities.
FOSIS calls for immediate action from all stakeholders involved to ensure accountability and justice for the students that have vocalised their experiences of Islamophobia.
- FOSIS (est. 1963) is a national umbrella organisation aimed at supporting and representing Muslim students and Islamic Societies in Further and Higher Education within the United Kingdom and Ireland.
- For more information on Section 78 of the Education Act 2002, please visit https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/32/section/78
- For more on this case, see FOSIS’ previous statement on LAE: fosis.org.uk/news/statement-regarding-allegations-of-institutional-islamophobia-at-the-london-academy-of-excellence-lae
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