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London college hits back in Islamophobia row

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A row over Islamophobia has broken out at a London sixth-form college after three students were suspended.

The trio were disciplined by Newham Sixth Form College (NewVic) after they sent an email to every student and member of staff in response to the college’s cancellation of an anti-Islamophobia event they had been involved in organising.

The email included a petition calling for an end to “institutional Islamophobia”, and criticised the government’s Prevent strategy, which aims to help stop people from getting drawn towards violent extremism.

In a statement published by the college, principal Eddie Playfair said the email sent by the students was an “unauthorised and inappropriate use of college communications. We have therefore temporarily suspended the students and their email accounts, pending further investigation and discussion with them,” he said.

He added: “So far they have not responded to invitations to meet. In the meantime, the students are able to take all their public exams in college and the teaching on their courses ended on 22 May.

“These students have been temporarily suspended for an alleged misuse of the college’s communication system, not because of raising issues about Islamophobia."

The college has been heavily criticised over the move on Twitter, with users using the hashtag #NewVIC3 to condemn its decision to suspend the three students.

But Mr Playfair said that the college was “very committed to fighting all forms of discrimination including Islamophobia”, and provided a “diverse and respectful learning community”.

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