Thousands of Muslims on Saturday demanded the firing of a New Jersey teacher under investigation for forcibly removing the religious veil of a second grade girl in class.
A viral Change.org petition calling for the Maplewood teacher’s immediate dismissal over the alleged “discriminatory action” had gathered more than 5,000 signatures by Saturday morning and was rapidly gaining steam.
Selaedin Maksut, executive director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations of New Jersey, expressed support for the social media campaign in a statement issued Friday afternoon.
“We call for the immediate firing of the teacher. Anything less is an insult to the students and parents of Maplewood,” Mr. Maksut said.
Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, a family friend of the girl’s mother in Maplewood, fueled the protests with a social media post on Thursday. In it she alleges that the Seth Boyden Elementary second grade teacher exhibited “racism and bigotry” by also telling the girl her hair was beautiful and she did not have to wear the hijab to school.
“The young student resisted, by trying to hold onto her hijab, but the teacher pulled the hijab off, exposing her hair to the class,” Ms. Muhammad wrote on Instagram.
New York’s NBC-4 television affiliate reported that the South Orange Maplewood School District emailed a statement to parents Thursday, promising an investigation into the incident and cautioning that social media is “not a reliable forum for due process.”
“Any decision or outcome related to this will be reserved for after the completion of the investigation,” the statement read in part.
The school district added that it would respect its “legal obligations” by keeping the identities of both the teacher and student confidential.
The district’s statement gave no timeframe for investigating the incident, which allegedly occurred during a class on Wednesday.