Birmingham: British primary school has reported a 10-year-old Muslim boy to police on suspicion of terrorism, after he complained about not having a prayer room on a field trip, according to media reports.
The controversy erupted when a Muslim pupil at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham complained about not having a prayer room on a field trip.
The student, who also told female Muslim pupils they needed to cover their faces with a headscarf, was referred to police under the government's Prevent Duty initiative.
His teachers said they became concerned because he was acting differently on the field trip than he normally would do in the classroom.
Over the last 12 months the school, which caters for more than 740 pupils between the ages of five and 11, has reported three pupils to the Counter Terrorism Unit.
All three children were referred after staff were concerned they were displaying signs of developing extremism.
”This level of scrutiny is only being targeted at Muslim children which is not fair,” a father told Daily Mail on Monday.
“Children also mimic what other people might say or deliberately want to shock teachers. If children fear expressing their views, even if they are extreme, then they will be driven underground and will be more susceptible to extremists.
“Reporting a child to the police for asking about a prayer room is too far and not helpful.”
Earlier this year, the government introduced a new counter-terrorism measure that requires UK nursery staff and childminders to report toddles at risk of becoming terrorists.
The proposed legal requirement for teachers to spy on toddlers was slammed by UK educationists and rights activist.
Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, head teacher Hazel Pulley defended reporting the boy to police, saying his views raised concerns.
She said, "It a sign of extremism might come out in a Geography or History lesson.
"The children were, for example, on a residential trip. One child particularly was emphatic about having to have a prayer room, yet we don't have one in school.
"We respect our community wholeheartedly but the fact is this was a change from the practices we have in school.
"It came with other behaviours at that time. It was as if in a different environment I can do different things, which was concerning.
For her part, Director of Connect Justice Zubeda Limbada, which works to promote trust between communities in order to reduce the risk of extremism, also criticized the role of teachers in reporting children.
She said: "There really is no clarity from government in terms of when to take proportionate steps to protect children from extremism.
"Teachers should be able to concentrate on nurturing the mind of pupils and not controlling their minds."
“They are just little children. Sometimes children do things for fun because they do not understand what they are doing or that it is wrong,” a mother said.