Freedom of Expression and the Right to be Safe

Introduction

This lesson provides an opportunity for learners and teachers to explore attitudes, behaviour and the use of language; and their effect on others. As such it contributes to the Scottish Government’s national outcomes:

  • We have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others
  • We take pride in a strong, fair and inclusive national identity.

Article 42 of the UNCRC requires that children, young people and adults learn and know about the UNCRC. This lesson focuses on Article 13 (Freedom of expression): Children have the right to get and share information, as long as the information is not damaging to them or others. In exercising the right to freedom of expression, children have the responsibility to also respect the rights, freedoms and reputations of others. The freedom of expression includes the right to share information in any way they choose, including by talking, drawing or writing. As other articles of the UNCRC make clear, a child or young person should be able to express themselves regardless of their religion or culture.

Explain to learners that they will study many facts and hear different opinions. They should understand that people will view things differently depending on their own experience and they should understand that validly held oppositional opinions can be held and they must try to separate fact from opinion.

Learning Intention: I am learning about the right to freedom of expression and the right to be safe as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Success Criteria: I am aware that the language I use when discussing Israel and Palestine must not be offensive to others especially Jewish or Muslim people.

Some other new teaching resources that may interest you:

The Quakers have produced Razor Wire and Olive Branches, a teaching resource on Israel and Palestine for secondary pupils aged 14-18.

quaker.org.uk/teaching

Amnesty International have produced Learning About Human Rights in Primary School. A simple introduction to learning about rights.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/resources/learning-about-human-rights-primary-school-resource-pack

Preparation: Jotters/paper issued. Go through learning intentions.

You will find definitions of Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in lesson 2.

Discuss values: ask the students to pick out correct definitions of Wisdom, Justice, Compassion and Integrity from board.

“Google” Israel and Palestinian conflict in images. Show there is a wealth of contradictory photos.

Activity 1

First show the brief film clipHuman Rights’ showing the class that human rights have been hard won and need to be protected.

Take the class through the presentation, Freedom of Expression and the Right to be Safe explaining and discussing as appropriate.

Activity 2

Either do this task as a paired activity or class debate.

Paired Activity:

Organise students into pairs. Present the students with the statement, “There should be no laws to limit freedom of speech.” Students identify two reasons to support the statement and 2 reasons why they disagree with the statement.

Class Debate: Teacher Instructions – adapted from ‘Lessons from Africa.’

The class is going to take part in a debate.

This is the proposed structure for the debate, including an ideal timescale. However, depending on the length of a lesson, the teacher should feel free to change and adapt as necessary.

The proposed motion is: “There should be no laws to limit freedom of speech.”

One team will propose the statement and the other oppose.

You will need:

    • A Chair.

    • A Timekeeper.

    • 4 people for the Proposition (For).

    • 4 people for the Opposition (Against).

    • Divide the class into 2 groups. Each group will assist the debating team with their argument.

    • Each group will make a list of the main points to be made for their position and gather information to support the points.

    • Supports in each group will make a list of questions to ask the other team. Supporters can also pass questions to the debating team during the debate.

    • While supporters are writing questions, the debating team decides who is making which point and considers what they want to say.

The Debate:

Before the debate starts, allow the groups 5 minutes to collaborate and look through what they’re going to speak about.

    • Each speaker will have 2 minutes to present their argument. The first speaker from each team should take it in turns to present their arguments to the audience followed by the second two speakers from each.

    • The rest of the class will be the floor. When both of the first two speakers have presented their arguments, those on the floor will be able to ask questions of either side. This should last no more than 5 minutes. This should be followed by the second speakers from each team presenting their arguments, with 5 minutes given for questions when both have spoken.

    • Using a set of indicators (marked 1-5 if possible) for both the speeches and open-floor discussion, the teacher will award marks for each point made, for both the speeches and open floor. If the teacher wants, they can also make notes of the points made for discussion.

    • At the end of the debate the teacher (or chair) should ask for a raise of hands. For each hand raised, another mark will be awarded to the side in question.

Timescale (approximately 30 minutes):

    • Chairperson opens the debate and introduces the first two speakers (1 minute).

    • Speaker 1 of the Proposition speaks (2 minutes).

    • Speaker 1 of the Opposition speaks (2 minutes).

    • The floor is open for questions (5 minutes).

    • Chairperson introduces the second two speakers (1 minute).

    • Speaker 2 of the Proposition speaks (2 minutes).

    • Speaker 2 of the Opposition speaks (2 minutes).

    • The floor is open for questions a second time. The floor will then vote for or against the motion (5 minutes).

    • If there is time, the teacher can then proceed to give feedback to the speakers and points made on the floor (10 minutes).

Activity 3

Learners explore the defined terms and then examine the following statements to decide where Anti-Semitism or Islamophobia rest. Examples are from:

Amnesty International is calling for an independent inquiry into the Israeli military attack on the UN compound in Gaza City.

Statement about the State of Israel, neither anti-Semitic nor Islamophobic.

A man has been arrested after a Muslim shopkeeper in Glasgow was killed in what police are called a ‘religiously prejudiced’ incident. Detectives have confirmed that the man arrested is also a Muslim.

Statement of fact, neither anti-Semitic nor Islamophobic.

Jewish students had been “hounded” for not attending medical lectures on the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at nightfall on Friday evening.

Anti-Semitic if Jewish students are being discriminated against because of their religion.

A UN report says that Israel is breaching Palestinians’ right to development amid ‘epic’ unemployment and poverty.

Statement about the State of Israel, neither Anti-Semitic nor Islamophobic.

Anti-Semitism must be understood for what it is – an attack on the identity of people who live, contribute and are valued in our society. There can be no excuses for Anti-Semitism or any other form of racism or prejudice

Statement of opinion, neither Anti-Semitic nor Islamophobic.

Humza Yousaf, an SNP MSP for Glasgow Pollok, said that he had faced a barrage of intense abuse online, including threats of physical violence, which are being investigated by the police as hate crimes.

Islamophobic if abuse relates to his religion.

A study of pupils from different religious and ethnic backgrounds found Muslims had been routinely called “terrorists”.

Islamophobic as members of the Islamic religion are being blamed for acts of terrorism committed by others acting in the name of Islam.

The conflict in Gaza and Israel led to a record number of Anti-Semitic hate incidents in the UK in 2014, figures released by a charity have shown.

Anti-Semitic if Jewish people are being blamed for actions by the State of Israel.

Articles and reports from which the above statements are drawn.

‘In the last week, SCoJeC has received around 25 reports relating to at least 12 separate Anti-Semitic incidents, almost as many as in the whole of 2013. Incidents that have been reported to the police include threatening phone-calls, e-mails, and graffiti on synagogues, as well as two cases of incitement to break the criminal law.’

Scottish Council of Jewish Communities August 2014

‘The conflict in Gaza and Israel led to a record number of Anti-Semitic hate incidents in the UK last year, figures released by a charity have shown.’

The Huffington Post February 2015

‘Amnesty International is calling for an independent inquiry into the Israeli military attack on the UN compound in Gaza City yesterday.’

Belfast Telegraph 2009

‘Israel breaching Palestinians’ right to development amid ‘epic’ unemployment and poverty, UN report says.’

Independent newspaper October 2016

‘Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s minister for international development, has claimed that the level of Islamophobia and fear currently being felt by Muslims in Scotland has not been so intense since the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers in New York.

Yousaf, an SNP MSP for Glasgow Pollok, said that he had faced a barrage of intense abuse online, including threats of physical violence, which are being investigated by the police as hate crimes.’

Herald Scotland newspaper December 2015

‘There has been a spike in religiously motivated hate crime since the terror attacks on Paris, police in Scotland have warned.

Deputy Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Iain Livingstone, issued a statement today warning that such attacks would not be tolerated. He said: “Police Scotland have investigated instances of crime since the events in Paris that have been motivated by religious hatred.

“These crimes have been both online and in public. Arrests have been made.

“Police Scotland will not tolerate any form of hate crime and I urge everyone across the country to continue working together to ensure that no one feels threatened or marginalised.”‘

Independent newspaper November 2015

‘A majority of Muslim pupils from Scottish schools have experienced Islamophobia, new research shows. A study of pupils from different religious and ethnic backgrounds found Muslims had been routinely called “terrorists” and “Pakis”, and found similar abuse was directed at other groups including black refugees from Somalia and Sikhs. Even young people from countries in eastern Europe such as Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic had been called “Pakis.”‘

Herald Scotland newspaper October 2015

‘Jewish students at universities are “denying or hiding” their identity because of discrimination, according to new claims.

The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (Scojec) said it had evidence university staff had criticised student work on Israel because they did not agree with the point of view being expressed.

The Council, which is the representative body for Jewish communities across Scotland, also said Jewish students had been “hounded” for not attending medical lectures on the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at nightfall on Friday evening.

One student told Scojec: “I was told by my university that either I sit exams on Shabbat or I fail.” In another case, a student said she no longer went to the business school or library and was worried about attending classes “due to fear of being harassed or attacked.”‘

Herald Scotland newspaper November 2015

‘A job seeker with an English-sounding name was offered three times the number of interviews than an applicant with a Muslim name.’

Muslim Council for Britain January 2019

’21 Anti- Semitic incidents were reported in Scotland in 2018. This was an increase from the 5 previous years.’

Scotsman newspaper February 2019

‘Anti-Semitism must be understood for what it is – an attack on the identity of people who live, contribute and are valued in our society. There can be no excuses for Anti-Semitism or any other form of racism or prejudice.’

UK Communities Secretary December 2016

Activity 4

In groups, ask learners to devise ground rules for the debate of the next lesson. Emphasise that it should be fair and respectful to everyone. Their conclusions should reflect the following possible ground rules:

  • Listen respectfully, without interrupting or judging.
  • Allow everyone to have a chance to speak.
  • Listen actively trying to understand others’ views and why they hold them.
  • Criticise ideas, not individuals.
  • Comment to share information and explain how you feel, not to try to persuade others.
  • Avoid blaming individuals or groups.
  • Avoid inflammatory or insulting language.
  • Focus on facts, the human impact and possible solutions.
  • Avoid assumptions or generalisations about any individual or group.
  • Avoid asking individuals to speak or answer for their (perceived) social group.

Activity 5

Allocate one case study to each group.

Learners read the case study as a group, decide who will play each role and what relevant human rights are involved. 

Each group acts out their case with one member of the group acting as narrator, explaining to the class what the case is about and which rights are involved.

Others in the group will act as lawyers for the prosecution and defence making a persuasive case on each side.