Footballers to tackle Islamophobia

Michael Shaw

Worries about a rise in Islamophobia in schools have led the National Union of Teachers (NUT) to support a video in which footballing stars urge pupils not to victimise their Muslim classmates.

The DVD, produced with campaign group Show Racism the Red Card, features interviews with celebrity players including Rio Ferdinand, Didier Drogba and Thierry Henri, who point out that it is wrong to attack members of a religion for the unrepresentative actions of a few.

Muslim teenagers and school pupils are also interviewed and describe how they fear that they have been treated differently since the September 11 attacks in 2001 and the 2007 bombings in London.

One girl describes how a pupil had called her hijab a "tea cloth", while another describes how a boy tore her head covering off.

Christine Blower, acting NUT general secretary, said that the union had decided to be the main sponsor of the video because it took tackling Islamophobia seriously.

"Muslim pupils talk of harassment, name-calling and bullying linked with Bin Laden or the Iraq conflict," she said. "For teachers, the demands are challenging. Developing respect for others, friendship and community is at the heart of educating against Islamophobia."

The video features interviews with adult victims of Islamophobia, including members of a Scottish football team who said they were stopped by five police cars and a helicopter on the way to a match.

A Glasgwegian Muslim (pictured) describes how he was beaten up two days after the July 7 attacks by men shouting: "Go back to Pakistan, you terrorist" and shows the camera his scars.

The footballers emphasise that religion and race do not matter to them when they on the pitch.

Ahmed Hossam, better known as Mido, the Middlesbrough striker, was subjected to Islamophobic taunts by Newcastle fans last year. "There is no reason to have this abuse in our lives, or in football," he says.

The Islamophobia DVD and teaching pack is available, price pound;30, from www.srtrc.org.

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Michael Shaw

I'm the director of TES Pro and former deputy editor of the TES magazine. I joined the publication as a news reporter back in 2002, and have worked in a variety of journalistic roles including editing its comment and news pages. In 2013 I set up the app version of the magazine, TES Reader, and the free TES Jobs app https://bit.ly/TESJobsapp Michael Shaw

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