Girl, 15, arrested for ‘burning Koran at school and posting footage on Facebook’
A teenage girl has been arrested on suspicion of inciting religious hatred after allegedly burning an English language version of the Koran – and then posting it on Facebook.
The 15-year-old, who lives in the Sandwell area of Birmingham, West Mids, was filmed two weeks ago on her school premises burning the Islamic religious book.
Police have confirmed the video was reported to the school and has since been removed.
A 14-year-old boy was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of making threats. Both have been released on police bail.
This incident comes just two and a half months after six yobs were arrested after filming themselves dousing the Muslim holy book with fuel and setting it ablaze behind a pub in Tyneside.
It is believed the young girl was allegedly filmed setting the booklet alight while other pupils watched on.
Two Facebook profiles have also been removed from the site.
It is understood that the group who published that version of the Koran have visited the school to talk to pupils.
Chief executive officer of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Catherine Heseltine, slammed the burning of the Koran – one of the most offensive acts to Muslims she could imagine.
She said: ‘The Koran is the most sacred thing to over a billion Muslims worldwide.
‘You can see that in the way Muslims treat the Koran – washing before touching it and in many Muslim homes you will find it on the top shelf above all other books.
‘We will never destroy the Koranic texts. We believe it is the word of God. God’s guidance for us in this life.’
Cllr Bob Badham, Sandwell’s Cabinet member for children and families, revealed he has been in constant discussion with IMAN (Inclusive Muslim Action Network) about the incident.
He said: ‘It’s not the first time this has happened – it’s almost like a copycat act.
‘It’s very easy to just press a button to put a video online without thinking about the consequences, they are almost an afterthought.
‘The girl has been arrested so it is a very delicate and serious matter.
‘One of the leaders of IMAN and I have been involved with part of the consultation at the school.
‘We’re all obviously working very hard behind the scenes but the school is operating as normal.’
Bob insisted the school is doing all it can to encourage pupils to try and put the incident behind them.
He added: ‘The council has been working hard with a school, police and the local community to maintain harmony following the incident.
‘All involved have reacted very positively and the children at the school know how serious it is. We have all pulled together.’
He added he did not believe there was a ‘deeper problem’ in the area.
In September this year, six men between the ages of 23 and 45 were arrested by police in Gateshead, Tyneside after footage of them burning the Muslim holy book while wearing tea towels around their heads was posted on YouTube.
At one point in the video, a laughing man is seen kicking what appears to be a Koran while his friends shout: ‘This is for the boys in Afghanistan. September 11, international burn a Koran day, for all the people of 9/11.’
Tracked down by the Daily Mail, the men, calling themselves ‘English nationalists’ but refusing to be identified, claimed they acted out of ‘frustration’ that there was ‘one law for Muslims’ and another law for white English people.
This recent spate of Koran burnings follows Florida pastor Terry Jones’s incitement for people to burn copies of the holy book to commemorate the victims of the four suicide hijackings that left more than 3,000 dead in New York, Washington and Philadelphia.
Mr Jones eventually backed down from his threat to burn 200 copies of the Koran after he was told U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan would be put at greater risk by his actions.
Speaking about the latest incident in Birmingham, a spokesperson for West Midlands Police said: ‘A 15-year-old girl was arrested on Friday 19 November on suspicion of inciting religious hatred. She has been bailed pending further enquiries.
‘A second 14-year-old boy was arrested on Tuesday 23 November on suspicion of making threats over Facebook. He has also been bailed pending further enquiries.
‘The local neighbourhood team have strong links with the school and have been working closely with key partners from the community and the local authority to resolve the matter locally.
‘West Midlands Police will investigate and monitor any crime reported by individuals who may have been targeted because of their disability, gender, race religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender.’