New Jersey educator suspended after allegedly telling Muslim student 'We don't negotiate with terrorists'

New Jersey educator suspended after allegedly telling Muslim student 'We don't negotiate with terrorists'
·2 min read

A New Jersey teaching assistant was suspended Tuesday after a Muslim student claimed the teacher responded to his query about homework with a reference to terrorism.

The Garden State's Ridgefield School District indicated it may pursue legal action after a teaching assistant allegedly responded to a request from Mohammed Zubi, 17, to finish his homework at home by saying, "We don't negotiate with terrorists."

"The Ridgefield School District has absolutely no tolerance for any sort of discrimination against any student or staff member," The district posted on its front page. "The District strives to create an inclusive environment where students and staff members' race, religion, national origin, and sexual orientation are embraced ... Additionally, the District has notified law enforcement for its assistance. The District fully intends to pursue any and all legal remedies against the staff member as any discriminatory conduct has absolutely no place in our District."


Zubi said the instructor's remark was met with mixed reactions from other students in the classroom.

"I look around in shock," Zubi told local outlet WABC. "There's people laughing, and there's other people in shock. I turn around and ask my friend, 'Did he really just say that?' and she said, 'Yes.'"

The unidentified teaching assistant later approached Zubi and reportedly told him, "I didn't mean it like that."

The teenager said he has not returned to school since the teacher's comments.

"I don't feel like going back. I'm really uncomfortable," he said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, offered the school district diversity training for its teachers and staff "to help combat Islamophobia and bullying."

"We are very concerned about these allegations and urge the school district to take appropriate corrective measures following a swift and transparent investigation," said CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut in a Friday press release.

Maksut made clear that "this type of insensitive language by an authority figure is unacceptable because it perpetuates stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims."


The district declined to comment on the story for legal reasons but stated that it suspended the teacher while investigating Zubi's claims.

This is the second recent incident of alleged Islamophobia in New Jersey, according to CAIR. An elementary teacher elsewhere in the state was accused in early October of forcibly removing the hijab of a Muslim student. That school district pledged due process for the teacher while reaffirming its commitment to "diversity, equity and inclusion throughout [its] schools including providing anti-bias and anti-racism training for all educators in the district on a regular basis."

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Tags: News, Islam, New Jersey, Discrimination, High School

Original Author: Christopher Hutton

Original Location: New Jersey educator suspended after allegedly telling Muslim student 'We don't negotiate with terrorists'

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