Hundreds of people gathered recently, many of them students, at Carlton Bolling School to protest against the suspension of Asif Khan, a Behavioural Support Officer at the school. Mr Khan and Carlton Bolling are both currently refusing to comment on the suspension but the demonstration organiser, Ibrahim Darr, believes it is due to Mr Khan’s recent work helping to raise money for pro-Palestine charity Interpal.
Mr Darr, said, “Students at Carlton Bolling raised over £1,200 in their own time for a local respected charity – Interpal. The students decided to give the money to the school to show what they have been doing in their local community but were surprised when the school refused to hand over the money cancelling the cheque they had. This was due to The Sunday Times accusing the school for supporting a charity that was banned in Israel.”
It has been alleged by the US and Israel that Interpal has links with Hamas and the law in these countries prohibits its citizens from donating or doing business with the charity. However the British charity has been investigated three times, in the past 18 years, and each time has been cleared of any wrong doing.
A spokesperson for Interpal, commented, “For the past twenty years Interpal has worked with local partners to support thousands of Palestinians through projects aimed at reducing poverty, increasing access to health care, advancing education, and helping developments in the community. We support people living in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Lebanon and Jordan. We have and never will be associated with terrorism.”
Organisers of the demonstration have claimed 300 people attended the event, 200 of them students from Carlton Bolling and lasted for approximately one hour. Police officers were present at the event and cordoned off both sides of the road for around 30 minutes.
Cllr Mohammed Shabbir, an observer at the event said, “I saw old and former students of Carlton Bolling advocating on behalf of Asif. I think there’s a huge amount of support for Asif amongst young people. Whether they can express it openly as they would desire is another question, as I understand things have been said to make people worried.”
Whilst the demonstration proceeded peacefully with no arrests made there have been reports that headmaster, Adrian Kneeshaw, at an assembly beforehand threatened to exclude students from the sixth form if they attended and warned that they could be arrested if they took part.
A source within the school, who wishes to remain anonymous, has stated that Mr Khan was suspended by letter and that shortly afterwards his job was advertised then filled. The source has claimed to seeing Mr Khan’s replacement, ‘walking around the school.’ Currently, the Carlton Bolling school website does have a vacancy posted for a, ‘Temporary Behavioural Support Officer.’
It has been speculated that Mr Khans suspension maybe a backlash to the ‘Trojan Horse’ controversial, where a group of people were accused of attempting to ‘Islamise’ Bradford schools. One of the schools at the centre of the alleged scandal was Carlton Bolling which had its entire board of governors removed just a few months previously. One of those governors was Cllr Faisal Khan, an alleged ring leader of the Trojan Horse coup, who is the brother of Asif Khan.
Cllr Khan declined to comment on the ongoing investigation but his colleague Cllr Shabbir said, “I don’t know the particular details of the suspension, it could be a conflation with the Trojan Horse issue, it could be a conflation of the Palestine-Israel issue. I do know that Asif Khan is an asset to Carlton Bolling. He is a person who is needed in Bradford. Bradford needs him more than he needs Bradford.”
Mr Darr added, “I believe that part of Asif being suspended is that because after the Trojan Hoax, as I call it, the school (Carlton Bolling) is running scared of giving the appearance of anything that might look controversial. I have nothing against the headmaster or the school I feel they’re under a lot of pressure, from outside sources, to be acting in the way that they are.”
He went on to say “The school has not handled problems well; the manner it threatened its students for not attending a legal and peaceful demonstration, telling children EDL was at the front of the entrance and for their safety they had to leave from the back entrance, directing them away from the
demonstration. The students rebelled against the school as they wanted to show support for the local teacher who no one wants to see leave the school.”
It has been suggested that Mr Khan’s suspension could, in part, be due to Facebook posts that Asif made on his personal account deriding the state of Israel. However, if such posts existed they have since been deleted and Mr Khan has refused to comment on the matter.
Paul Makin, Assistant Director Education and School Improvement at Bradford Council, said, “This is an HR matter which is being investigated thoroughly it would not be appropriate to comment until that process is completed.”