Sunday, 12 June 2016

Wanstead High School student Leanne Mohamad's contribution in Speak Out challenge marks significant defence of free speech

The story of what happened to Leanne Mohamad, following her excellent speech at Jack Petchey’s Speak Out challenge event, exposes the real nature of free speech in this country.

The reality seems to be that everyone is free to speak just so long as it is not about anything that matters. The comments from some to the effect that she should have been advised to choose another subject etc underline the point.

I have seen this very authentic speech that is eloquent, articulate and speaks from the heart. Leanne draws on her own background, including the death of a relative. The treatment she received online and elsewhere has been a disgrace. The support for her both locally and nationwide since the incident has been gratifying and in the true spirit of free speech.

As a former pupil of Wanstead High, it was a pleasure to see someone giving such a powerful passionate speech about one of the great injustices in the world today. The shame was that the competition organisers did not see fit to advance the speaker onto the next stage of the contest. This though does not change the fact that Leanne Mohamad’s steadfast stands marks an important victory for free speech in an increasingly anodyne world.

* published Ilford Recorder/Wanstead & Woodford Guardian - 9/6/2016

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