The incident at a school in Essex County, New Jersey in which a teacher is reported to have ‘forcibly removed’ the hijab off the head of a 7-year old Muslim girl has stirred angry reactions from the Muslim community, calling it a “harassment” and “assault.”
“The hijab is much like any other article of clothing for a Muslim woman. To remove that publicly can be very humiliating,” said Selaedin Maksut, executive director of New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, ABC 7 reported.
Zaynab Wyatt revealed earlier that her daughter Sumayyah has been traumatized after her second-grade teacher allegedly snatched her hijab off the girl’s head in the middle of class.
The mother added that her daughter is no longer interested in wearing the hijab after the incident at Seth Boyden Elementary School in Maplewood, a suburb about 15 miles west of New York City.
“I have to go introduce her to a different world that I’ve been trying to protect her from,” she said.
The family’s lawyer said the second-grader has always worn a hijab to school as a part of her Muslim faith.
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The teacher has denied the accusations as her attorney mentioned that the teacher, in accordance with school policy, only “directed a student in her class to pull down the hood on what appeared to be a hooded sweatshirt because it was blocking her eyes”, and immediately rescinded that request when she realized that the student was wearing the hood in place of, rather than on top of, her usual hijab.
But the mother said the teacher’s actions must have consequences.
“She had to know that was a hijab,” she said. “She has to pay for that. I’d love for her to apologize to my daughter, and then my daughter would feel better.”
Olympian hijabi athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad has also spoken out against the alleged discrimination regarding the Muslim student.
Muhammed revealed the name of the teacher as Tamar Herman, a teacher at Seth Boyden Elementary in Maplewood, NJ.
“Imagine being a child and stripped of your clothing in front of your classmates. Imagine the humiliation and trauma this experience has caused her. This is abuse. Schools should be a haven for all of our kids to feel safe, welcome and protected— no matter their faith,” Muhammad wrote on Instagram.
“We cannot move toward a post-racial America until we weed out the racism and bigotry that still exist in all layers of our society. By protecting Muslim girls who wear hijab, we are protecting the rights of all of us to have a choice in the way we dress.”
The school district has also issued a statement saying they were made aware of the allegations through social media. The statement said the school district “takes matters of discrimination extremely seriously.”