Teacher faces discipline over ‘terrorist’ dispute with Oakville student

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Published April 29, 2024 at 11:30 am

Keffiyeh Oakville Iroquois
The keffiyeh scarf beyind the controversy at an Oakville school.

A teacher at an Oakville high school has been disciplined following a confrontation with a student who was wearing a Palestinian kaffiyeh.

The incident, captured on video at Iroquois Ridge High School and widely shared on social media, shows portions of the interaction with the male student accusing the staff member of calling him a terrorist.

In the video the female staff member says that the kaffiyeh reminds her of Hamas and tells the student to be careful while wearing it.

A kaffiyeh is a black and white scarf worn in the Middle East that has increasingly become a symbol for those who support Palestine during its ongoing conflict with Israel.

Hamas is a political and military group that represents Palestine. Canada officially recognizes Hamas as a terrorist organization.

In a message posted on the Iroquois Ridge website, Principal John Stieva said the teacher has been sent home pending an investigation by the Halton District School Board.

“We are aware of a video circulating online showing a staff member speaking with some students at our school. In the video, the staff member is shown using harmful and discriminatory anti-Palestinian racist language toward a student. This incident took place in the school office on Friday, April 26,” states Stieva.

The principal goes on to state that the behaviour is harmful and unacceptable.

“Anti-Palestinian racism, and racism in any form, is not tolerated at our school. Iroquois Ridge HS, along with all schools in the Halton District School Board (HDSB), strongly condemns this behaviour and are committed to upholding the Human Rights Code,” the principal says.

An online statement by the Muslim Advisory Council of Canada (MACC) said that no student should feel unsafe for donning a cultural piece of clothing.

“Such language compromises the safety and well-being of students,” the statement by MACC reads. “Our commitment remains clear: discrimination, including anti-Palestinian racism, has no place in our education system and beyond.”

The teacher has not been identified by the school board.

The use of the kaffiyeh is a hot-button issue for many.

Last week the scarves were banned from the legislature at Queen’s Park with House Speaker Ted Arnott ruling the kaffiyeh was a political symbol and against the rules to be worn during government sessions.

 

 

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