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France: Teacher suspended for alleged Islamophobic outburst

31st Dec 2021
France: Teacher suspended for alleged Islamophobic outburst

(photo credit: Flickr)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Police are investigating a teacher at a Catholic school in western France after he allegedly made Islamophobic remarks about a Muslim student on November 30.

The Muslim student claims his teacher at Joseph-Wresinski d’Angers Catholic School told him that Muslims present a problem in Catholic schools before urging him to change religion.
On December 2, the student filed a formal complaint against his eco-management teacher with Angers police.

In retaliation, the 27-year veteran teacher filed a counter-complaint the following day, claiming the student had used “physical and verbal violence towards a person in the course of public service” when he pushed past him and accused him of racism.

Angers public prosecutor Eric Bouillard says an investigation has now been launched.
The incident started during a lesson on November 30, when students said the teacher veered off topic while discussing Catholic schools of the past.

The teacher allegedly remarked: “Catholic schools should have continued to only accept Catholic students,” but was met with a defence from a student who pointed at a Muslim classmate and responded “but Catholic schools aren’t just reserved for Catholics.”

According to the Muslim student, the teacher then responded with “that’s the problem”, adding “well, he could always change his religion”.

Upset, the Muslim student left the class, allegedly pushing past the teacher and yelling “racist” on his way out.

Meanwhile, the teacher has acknowledged “inviting Muslims to join us and become Catholic”, but said that the remark was a joke that wasn’t received well by students.
He argued that the comments were made during a discussion on France’s legal history, of which Catholicism and Christianity played a major role.

“I offered to talk to him and his parents, but they refused categorically,” the teacher told a local paper.
Anthony Bélangé, the Director of the school in Angers, said: “Conflicts between staff and students can happen, but the complaints have taken this to a new level.

“This is quite an emotionally charged situation and I’ve asked the students in the class to write a factual testimony of the events, which will be sent to the investigation team.”

Belangé explained that the incident marked the first time he had encountered a problem with the teacher in question, although the school suspended him as a precaution during the investigation.

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