A New Jersey elementary school is facing calls to fire a teacher after she was accused of "forcibly" removing the hijab of a second-grade student.
Ibtihaj Muhammad, who won bronze in women's team sabre for Team USA five years ago in Rio, made allegations against the Seth Boyden Elementary School instructor in Maplewood, in an Instagram post on Wednesday. Muhammad, who according to NBC Philadelphia is the girl's mother wrote, "Tamar Herman, a teacher at Seth Boyden Elementary in Maplewood, NJ forcibly removed the hijab of a second grade student."
"The young student resisted, by trying to hold onto her hijab, but the teacher pulled the hijab off, exposing her hair to the class," Muhammad wrote in her Instagram post.
"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 protectedâ no matter their faith," she added. "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."
School District Says Proper Investigation Needed
The South Orange-Maplewood School District said in a statement on Thursday that they became aware of the allegation and will investigate the incident, reported Newsweek.
"The District takes matters of discrimination extremely seriously," the school district said. "We were alerted to social media posts related to the allegations. Social Media is not a reliable forum for due process and the staff member(s) involved are entitled to due process before any action is taken."
Calls for the Teacher to be Fired
The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called for the teacher to be fired immediately.
"Forcefully stripping off the religious headscarf of a Muslim girl is not only exceptionally disrespectful behavior, but also a humiliating and traumatic experience," the group wrote on Twitter. "Islamophobia in our public schools must be addressed in NJ. Classrooms are a place for students to feel safe and welcome, not fear practicing their faith."
Social Media Reactions
Netizens described this incidence as "infuriating" and "unacceptable". One internet user wrote, "The audacity to violate this child's rights is totally unacceptable & disrespectful." Another wrote, "The teacher should be suspended or fired, and the family should pursue legal settlement."
One user shared, "That is assault on a child!! Ugh! The trauma that child just suffered." Another wrote, "The teacher is a 2nd grade teacher has been teaching for 30 years in a very diverse school and she suddenly decided to pull off someone's hijab. Maybe an investigation is merited before firing anyone?"