LONDON – The family of a 10-year-old Muslim boy demanded an apology Wednesday after he was quizzed by British police for writing that he lived in a “terrorist” house instead of a “terraced” house during an English class.
Police interviewed the boy at his home in Lancashire, northwest England, on Dec. 7 and examined the family computer following his mistake, according to the BBC.
Since July, British teachers have been legally obliged to report any suspicious behavior by pupils.
“You can imagine it happening to a 30-year-old man, but not to a young child,” the boy’s cousin told the BBC. “If the teacher had any concerns it should have been about his spelling.
“He’s now scared of writing, using his imagination,” she added.
A terraced property is a British term for a townhouse that shares its side walls with others.
Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, the nation’s largest umbrella group for Islamic associations, blamed the government’s “Prevent” program, aimed at countering radicalization.
“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.
“This is a natural consequence of the extension of the ‘Prevent Duty’ to schools.”
Lancashire Police said the issue was dealt with “by a joint visit by a police constable from the division and social services,” and that no one from the Prevent counterextremism program had been involved.