A student has been seen ripping out pages from the Koran, “an incident of Islamophobia,” the Ontario School Board says
Students at a high school east of Oshawa, Ontario, are raising their concerns with the school board after video circulated last week that appeared to show a student tearing up and crumpled up pages from a Koran.
School board officials said they became aware of a “worrisome incident of Islamophobia” on March 3 at Courtice Secondary School after a student damaged a Koran earlier that day.
“While we cannot comment on individual disciplinary actions, the Kawartha Pine Ridge County School Board takes all allegations of discrimination seriously and is taking immediate steps to address this very serious incident,” Chief Executive Steve Russell and Director of Education Jamila Maliha said in a statement Thursday.
“The [board] will not tolerate acts of hate towards any person or symbol of faith and we are firmly committed to the values of equality, diversity, inclusivity and the dignity and humanity of each individual,” she added.
“We are committed to repairing the damage caused to the Muslim community by this incident.”
CBC Toronto received video that appeared to show the student’s actions but could not independently confirm its authenticity. In the video, a boy appeared to open the Koran, tear out and crumple pages, and then point at it with both middle fingers.
Quran Taken At Event To Combat Islamophobia, Student Says
Munawara Mazlomyar, a 12th grade student at the school, said the incident left her “stunned”.
She said the school’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) held an event called “Ask a Muslim a Question” that day to talk to non-Muslim students about the religion and try to combat Islamophobia.
“We put the Qur’an on display in English translation because we wanted anyone interested in learning about our religion to be able to take it and read about it,” Mazlomyar said.
Mazlomyar said a student grabbed one of the Qur’ans on display and that this video later surfaced, showing the same student tearing and crunching pages from it. She said the student also encouraged others to shit the book.
“I was very angry. I felt heartbroken because the reason we exhibited them was that people should gain knowledge of Islam.”
As a visibly Muslim woman, Mazlomyar said the incident made her feel unsafe at school.
Mallomyar said students should have been made aware of the incident by the school administration before they found out what happened on social media or through word of mouth. She is now calling on the school and board to launch an awareness campaign against Islamophobia and enable classroom discussions on the subject.
Minister of Education condemns incident
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce condemned the actions on Friday.
“I don’t want any child, especially Muslim children, in this school or in the province or in the country to be discouraged,” Lecce said at a news conference unrelated to the incident.
“We believe in them, we support them and we will continue to fund the organizations that work to ensure that these circumstances do not repeat themselves.”
Lecce added he is pleased that the government is continuing to fund the Muslim Association of Canada to help train staff and students to combat Islamophobia.
The school board, meanwhile, says it will continue to reach out to community groups for feedback and provide support to affected students and staff.
“As part of our next steps in response to this issue, we reached out to several community groups to work together, address questions and concerns, and hear their suggestions on how to remedy the damage caused by this incident,” the statement said.