World

LONDON (Web Desk) – A British-Palestinian schoolgirl has been barred from participating in the final of the national “Speak Out Challenge” after a video of her speech “Birds not Bombs” went viral online.

Leanne Mohamad, 15, who is a student at Wanstead High School in London, recently won the regional rounds of the “Speak Out Challenge” and was due to participate in grand finale after her winning performance.

Her speech “Birds not Bombs” reportedly featured descriptions of historical incidents such as Nakba, “the tragedy” which marks the start of Israeli occupation of Palestine. She also described how Palestinians had been persecuted by Israeli settlers over the years.

An excerpt from her speech reads:

“What if I told you for some children hide and seek is not a game, they play hide and seek every moment of their life…since 1948 to this very day more than 40,000 Palestinian children have been killed and Israel has been fighting Palestinians who have no government and no money with the most advanced weapons.”

The decision to expel Mohammad from the competition was taken after the event organizers took notice of the complaints of an “anti-Palestine” blogger, Edgar Davidson.

Speakers Trust CEO Julie Holness also confirmed that the contestant would not be allowed to participate in the next stage of the contest and that she will not be speaking at the grand final of the event.

“We have taken the complaints against her very seriously,” she added.

According to the Speakers Trust and the Jack Petchey Foundation judging panel, Leanne Mohamad had breached competition rules because her speech lacked a “positive and uplifting message”, and because she had apparently “inflame[d] and offend[ed] the audience.”

Reacting to the panels decision Leanne Mohammad condemned the move, calling it a step against freedom of expression and spirit of the competition.

She also complained to have received hateful messages, afterwards.

The Speakers Trust has also removed the “Birds not Bombs” speech from their website and YouTube Channel after its video became viral.