Student wrongly accused of ‘racism’ for criticising ritual slaughter

Student wrongly accused of ‘racism’ for criticising ritual slaughter August 19, 2019

AN exam board has admitted it was wrong to punish a 16-year-old Eastbourne pupil for making what it said were ‘obscene racial comments’ in a GCSE exam.

Abigail Ward, a strict vegetarian, wrote in a Religious Studies exam that she found the idea of halal meat “absolutely disgusting” – a view shared by millions, myself included.

An animal photographed second before its throat was cut in a halal slaughterhouse. Image via YouTube.

The decision was only overturned when her school, Gildredge House in Eastbourne, appealed the decision, insisting that the pupil had been expressing her horror of halal butchery and was not making any comment about Muslims.

The school insisted that no other comments made in the exam paper could be construed as racist.

The exam board, OCR, upheld the appeal and later apologised for the “upset and stress” they caused Ward.

Ward’s mother Layla, a 36-year-old nurse, said she believed the misunderstanding was probably down to an “over-zealous, over-righteous” examiner.

Abbey is an animal lover and a very strict vegetarian. Philosophy is all about debating and getting your opinion out. I can’t believe how pathetic it is.

In a statement, the board said:

OCR takes all incidence of suspected offensive material against a religious group in exams very seriously and must apply rules which are set out for all exam boards in such cases. We accept that initially we did not reach the right conclusion and were too harsh.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Michael Neville

    OCR admitted their error. All too many bureaucracies would have dug their heels in and refused to do so.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    Indeed. The knee-jerk reaction to see everything as racism or bigotry was checked.

    This time.

  • rubaxter

    I would have thought such a big adverse decision that could ruin a person ability to continue into higher education would have enough review and oversight that such a thing would NEVER HAPPEN until all the facts were known.

    Or, is that not possible for cost-benefit reasons …, for the exam-board and their Mission Statement?

  • Joe_Buddha

    Kinda like being labled “antisemetic” for denouncing Isreal for its palestinian policies.

  • Richard Sanderson

    But, “political correctness is just being polite to people” – James O’Brien.


  • barriejohn

    I agree. Exams are stressful enough for students as it is. I wondered whether the examiner who made the initial decision was Muslim, but I suppose we will never know. It was a bizarre judgment.

  • Rosalind Dalefield

    Halal slaughter does not preclude humane handling and preslaughter stunning. The only requirements of halal are that the animal is facing Mecca, the heart is beating, the person who cuts the throat is Muslim, the animal is blessed as the throat is cut, and the blood is drained. Many animals in Australia and New Zealand are slaughtered in compliance with halal, for export reasons, but are handled and stunned according to modern humane standards. People who oppose halal slaughter on “animal welfare” grounds are ignorant and misguided.

  • Or being called out for not spelling “antisemitic” correctly.

  • EllyR

    Your label is >anti-semitic<. You should learn to read and write your label even if you deserve it.

  • EllyR

    You are right but I would dare say that all primitive religions are wrong today and religious rituals are an abomination.

  • EllyR

    perniciosius pestes

  • steveiam

    Touche, does nobody refer to a Dictionary?

  • steveiam

    Religion is abomination.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    Muslim is not a race, so how could they accuse her of racism?

  • Mythblaster

    Nah, religion is merely ignorance mixed with a dose of wishful thinking…

  • Broga

    Brilliant. Thank you.

  • Broga

    Our problem, with potentially species lethal consequences, is that we think we are separate from all other creatures and nature itself. John Donne (and Darwin) got it right. The bell is tolling but we haven’t realised, as a species, that it is tolling for us.

  • Paul Morsey

    All of the errors cited in your second paragraph divert attention from communicating the desired message, and are an insult to the reader.

  • Sharon Horton

    Even more amazing: we’re the ones ringing the bell, and applauding ourselves for it. Pretty extreme definition of exceptionalism, don’t you think?

  • Sharon Horton

    If she’s vegan (or even just vegetarian), her position should be understandable on that basis alone. Add to that a position against animal abuse, and she doesn’t have to be characterized as any kind of anti-religious at all. People take these positions no matter their religions all the time.

    Your suspicions about theocrats and abuse may have to wait for another discussion; too much to explore right now.

  • steveiam

    Wow, ‘ punctuation, spelling grammar are things the not overly bright worry about.’ that IS the most flagrantly stupid raison d’etre imaginable.

  • She’s just a nut, then.

  • And this is why everyone hates vegans.