I feel compelled to write to you following your tweet yesterday as it has caused a lot of unrest in my #PLN and has featured in conversations with different I have connected with in the last 24 hours.
I am glad to see it has been removed by Twitter, this morning, a day after you posted it, following multiple complaints, but it alarms me that it took the platform and those who monitor it so long.
The fact your tweet was liked by 5k and retweeted by 10k reminds of me how the London Riots were incited via social media. To you a flippant tweet of 140 characters, to others an endorsement or an affirmation of racial hatred, cultural ignorance and religious prejudice.
You need to remember that your words hurt as they land. You need to be mindful of your professional responsibility. You need to imagine what would happen if each person in our society felt and spoke like this. You need to acknowledge that we are global citizens.
Why was I affronted by your tweet?
As a Tweeter:
You need to appreciate that you have 106k followers and when you share a tweet like that, whether you intend to or not, you are influencing the thinking of those who follow you. You are a role model for many and you need to take this responsibility seriously. Your actions and behaviours influence others; they can have a positive or a negative impact and this tweet encourages others to be intolerant and disrespectful of others.
As a Teacher:
You need to understand that if you were a student in a school you would have been excluded for such language. You have a responsibility as an adult, as a parent and as a carer, to model the behaviours we expect in our young people. As a school leader, I have had to deal with Muslim students being racially abused on the bus and physically assaulted in the street as a result of conversations like this.
As a Headteacher:
You need to acknowledge that you have abused your position and taken advantage of your sphere of influence. If you were one of my parents we would have had a formal conversation about the values of our community: diversity, equality and inclusion as your tweet compromises each of them. As schools we promote positive role models who will inspire and empower our young people. The advent of social media and reality TV challenge us every day in steering our next generation in the right direction. We educate our children to love and not to hate. Your tweet undermines this.
As a Human:
You need to show some empathy for the families of everyone concerned in the incidents you refer to. You need to show some respect for a religion and the religious practice of fasting. You need to show some compassion for the wider Muslim community who are being judged by the behaviours of a few. Your tweet isolates and marginalises the masses by the actions of a few. By calling Muslims ‘sods’ you diminish our fellow humans and your reference to turning ‘nasty’ when they are hungry implies they are wild animals.
I really hope this picture will make you reflect on the repercussions that acts of terrorism have on our society. Moreover, to consider the ripples on different communities when anatagonistic comments like yours are made.
Our world is in disarray: we don’t need any more hate, we need love.
Perhaps it would be helpful to have a refresher of the hate crime laws as many of us who saw the tweet felt like you were intentionally trying to incite others.
Educators have a responsibility under Prevent to educate our young people about how to safeguard themselves from terrorism:
But we equally have a responsibility to educate our young people about their rights and how to stay safe online, if a school child had showed us this tweet we would have investigated it and reported it:
You probably will not read this post but by reporting your tweet, challenging your behaviour and engaging in the conversations on twitter there has been some good that has come out of it:
- There has been a sense of collective responsibility around challenging your behaviour.
- There has been pressure on twitter to monitor such tweets and remove them/ block the tweeters.
- There has been a renewed solidarity as it has encouraged more educators to find out more about Ramadam.
- There has been a commitment by many to engage in the Ramadam celebrations to show their support:
Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher
Currently feeling hopeful about:
- The educators who reported the tweet and who challenged the behaviours as it is a collective responsibility.
Currently reading and thinking about:
- I have re-read Amjad’s post – with a diverse school community at Aureus School – we need to make sure that we are educating our young people about different religious practices.
Currently feeling grateful for:
- My #PLN who lead their lives by similar values to mine.