Headteacher: Palestinian flag can be seen as call to arms, support for hate

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Headteacher: Palestinian flag can be seen as call to arms, support for hate

Mike Roper, head of the Allerton Grange High School in Leeds, sparked anger for his comments in a video message amid possible protests from pupils, parents and staff

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

A head teacher has sparked anger after suggesting the Palestinian flag is used by some as a “call to arms” and can be seen “as a message of support for antisemitism.”

Mike Roper – head of the Allerton Grange High School in Leeds – had issued a warning about the possible protests and briefed pupils, parents and staff about the possible repercussions of demonstrations.

He had intended his speech to calm tensions over the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

But a video of his remarks went viral at the weekend and he was accused by some of “blatant Islamophobia”.

Police were seen patrolling outside the school on Monday.

In a two minute long video he said: “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.

“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.

“And they worry because for other people that flag is seen as a call to arms and seen as a message of support of antisemitism, for being anti-Jewish and it was never meant to be like that in the first place.”

Some pupils claimed they had come to school with pro-Palestinian lanyards which had been confiscated by teachers.

In a statement by Roper and the Leeds education authority the headmaster said his speech had been “an attempt to address tensions”.

It added: “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.”

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