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Denial of free speech for the “crime of being Palestinian”
Palestine Solidarity Campaign have written to the Speakers’ Trust to express their disgust at the organisation’s silencing of a Palestinian schoolgirl. Leanne Mohamad was blocked from taking up her place in the grand final of the – ironically named – Jack Petchey “Speak Out Challenge” after earning her place by winning the Redbridge round.

The organisers have taken all mention of her performance and victory off their website and youtube channel.

Leanne Mohamad said in her speech:

“I am Palestinian and I am human – I shouldn’t have to remind the world of that”. Her words appear to have fallen on the deaf ears of the competition organisers.

British-Palestinian schoolgirl wins the ‘Speak Out’ challenge from Artists for Palestine UK on Vimeo.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign are urging their supporters to complain to the Speakers Trust about the censorship of this young Palestinian voice who was calling for her right to self-determination and freedom – rights that are enshrined in international law.

Sara Apps, interim Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said:

“Schoolgirl, Leanne Mohamad, spoke about her family’s experience of dispossession and their right to self-determination and freedom. So by denying her this right to free speech the Speakers Trust and the “Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge”  are punishing Leanne for the crime of being born a Palestinian.”

The Speakers Trust responded by saying speakers are obliged to have “positive and uplifting message” and “a speaker should never inflame or offend the audience or insult others”. So the Speakers Trust judge that Leanne speaking out for her right as a Palestinian to self-determination and freedom is negative and offensive! ”

Kamel Hawwash, Vice Chair of PSC, said

“Anyone watching this brilliant child’s speech would have only seen a “positive and uplifting message”. If there were any errors in the content of her speech then surely this is the type of constructive advice she should have been given as she develops her undoubted talent at public speaking. Instead, and in addition to her deep shock and disappointment, she will learn that free speech is curtailed when it comes to talking about the injustice and the dispossession of the Palestinian people. We say ‘no’ to this attack on a young child and ask the Trust to not only help develop the next generation of public speakers but to ensure children grow up knowing that freedom of speech is part of being citizens in a democracy. The way to demonstrate this would be for this appalling decision to be reversed.”


UPDATE: Speakers’ Trust have issued a statement (30/06/16) which appears to contradict their earlier statement to the Jewish Chronicle http://www.speakerstrust.org/statement-from-speakers-trust/?platform=hootsuite

COMPLAIN to Speakers Trust.

Email [email protected]
Phone 020 7922 7902
Post on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SpeakerstTrust/

Notes to editors
1. A video of Leanne Mohamad’s speech can be seen here:https://vimeo.com/168536103
2. A statement by the Speakers Trust can be read from statements they made to the Jewish Chronicle http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/158735/schoolgirls-winning-anti-israel-speech-unanimously-voted-out-competition-final
3. Details of the competition can be found here:http://www.speakoutchallenge.com/contact/
4. This isn’t the first time a Palestinian has been blocked from a competition. Larissa Sansour was blocked – after selection – from the Elysee Museum prize sponsored by Lacoste http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-16299688
5. Larissa Sanour is showing a new exhibition in the Mosaic Rooms  http://mosaicrooms.org/blog/news-palestinian-artist-larissa-sansour-to-present-work-at-the-mosaic-rooms-in-2016/