In the last issue of Crescent International, we reported the ruling of the South African Human Rights Comission (HRC) that a Muslim schoolgirl who was suspended from a top private school in South Africa for writing an essay about Palestine had had her human rights violated.
We also emphasised the point made by Iqbal Jassat of the Media Review Network, a major Muslim media monitoring group in South Africa that the country’s mainstream media had refused to publish her essay even when they reported the case. We then received a number of letters, from within South Africa as well as other countries, requesting that we should reprint the essay so that our readers could see for themselves what all the fuss has been about. We are pleased to be able to do so.
Layla Cassim was a 14-year-old student at Crawford College when she wrote the essay and posted it on the school noticeboard in response to a pro-Israel article posted there earlier. The essay, entitled From the heart of Palestine..., was taken down by school authorities and sent to the Jewish Board of Deputies and the Jewish Defence League. They ruled that it was anti-semitic and Layla was suspended from school. The Jewish Defence League also contacted her father and threatened Layla.
Senior members of the school also attacked Layla in the media. The college’s then-Director, George Crawford, said on a live radio show that she was “anti-white, anti-semitic, she’s fundamental and she will make a good terrorist one day.”
She was also described as being difficult and “manifesting pathological behaviour”, calling her mental health into question.
The Human Rights Commission ruled that Layla’s rights to proper administrative action in the school, basic education and freedom of speech had been violated. It also said that the college had failed to respect her right to dignity and that she had been emotionally abused and degraded. The college’s appeal against the findings are pending.
Reading the essay, one is struck by the essay’s balance and the quality of its writing. Layla is now 15 and attending another school.
From the heart of Palestine...
Sometime ago I noticed a huge article on this very noticeboard detailing the origins of Israel, among other things. I felt that this was most unfair and one-sided, seeing that no Palestinian perspective was presented. Consequently my aim is writing this article is to conscientise and educate this predominantly Jewish school on the other side of the story.
This is an endeavour to put forth the views of the Palestinian people, a people who have suffered tremendously since the birth of Israel. Way back to the years immediately since the birth of Israel. Way back to the years immediately after the Second World War the Jews set their eyes on Palestine as their future homeland because it was “a land without a people for a people without a land”. Of course this was the biggest terminological inexactitude of the century. The Palestinian Foreign Minister agrees and says furthermore that the reason that the West was so eager to set up this ‘Jewish homeland’ was that the West had always had this powerful, deadly need to place a white colony right in the midst of Islam.
The Palestinian people have had their land brutally stolen from them. Their lives were battered, their hopes annihilated, they were thrust maliciously into the brewing pot of poverty, indignity and oppression. As long as Israel denies the Palestinians the right to have their land back, it denies and mocks their right to be treated as human beings.
Muslimedia: October 16-31, 1999