Leeds school under siege after head hits out at Palestinian flag

School under siege after head hits out at Palestinian flag: Protesters picket at the gates after teacher brands emblem ‘a call to arms’

  • Protesters gathered outside Allterton Grange, a high school in Leeds, yesterday
  • Comes after headteacher Mike Roper described Palestinian flag as ‘call to arms’
  • Police were stationed outside the school as protesters picketed at the gates

Protesters picketed a high school yesterday after the headmaster described the Palestinian flag as ‘a call to arms’.

Mike Roper has now apologised for the comments he made during an assembly at Allerton Grange in Leeds.

A clip from the assembly circulating online showed him telling pupils that the flag was sometimes ‘seen as a message of support of anti-Semitism’.

Protesters picketed a high school yesterday (pictured) after the headmaster described the Palestinian flag as ‘a call to arms’ 

Mike Roper has now apologised for the comments he made during an assembly at Allerton Grange in Leeds

Yesterday police were stationed outside the school as protesters gathered at the gates, waving Palestinian flags and chanting.

Last week’s assembly is understood to have been held to try to address tensions after some pupils were disciplined for wearing lanyards bearing the flag.

Yasmin Ahmed, 30, from Leeds, said Mr Roper’s comments were ‘shocking and inflammatory’.

‘The kids at that school were displaying the Palestinian flag in a peaceful way to make a statement about how they felt about what is happening over there, and to display their anger and their solidarity,’ she told The Daily Telegraph.

‘For the headmaster to then issue a video saying that the Palestinian flag is a call to arms and a symbol of anti-Semitism was shocking and inflammatory.’

In the video, Mr Roper is heard saying: ‘When I spoke to them they were so articulate in how they felt about innocent people in the Middle East and how they were being treated. 

A clip from the assembly circulating online showed him telling pupils that the flag was sometimes ‘seen as a message of support of anti-Semitism’

Yasmin Ahmed, 30, from Leeds, said Mr Roper’s comments were ‘shocking and inflammatory’

‘But the problem is by using a symbol such as the Palestinian flag that message is lost because for some people they see that flag and they feel threatened, they feel unsafe.

‘They worry because for other people that flag is seen as a call to arms and seen as a message of support of anti-Semitism, for being anti-Jewish and it was never meant to be like that in the first place.’

He says he has asked students not to use symbols or flags ‘because it is causing a lot of distress to students, particularly minority students’.

A joint letter from the school and Leeds City Council has since been issued, in which Mr Roper apologised for his comments.

Yesterday police were stationed outside the school as protesters gathered at the gates, waving Palestinian flags and chanting

A joint letter from the school and Leeds City Council has since been issued, in which Mr Roper apologised for his comments

He says: ‘In a diverse school like Allerton Grange, with such a rich mix of communities, it is not surprising that divisions on the international front will be felt within our school. 

‘It was in an attempt to address those tensions that I gave an assembly to all students on Wednesday morning. 

‘I am deeply sorry that a particular example I used in that assembly, referring to the Palestinian flag, has caused such upset within the community. That was never my intention.

‘The full message shared with students last week praised our students’ passion for their views and beliefs. It set out how we want to work through the issues highlighted with our students in an informed and respectful way.’

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