Sports, Americas

US Olympic fencer accuses teacher of removing student's hijab

South Orange-Maplewood School District probing claim, says it 'takes matters of discrimination extremely seriously'

Michael Hernandez   | 08.10.2021
US Olympic fencer accuses teacher of removing student's hijab File Photo - American saber fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad (L) watches the Swimming Finals within the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 10, 2016. ( Salih Zeki Fazlıoğlu - Anadolu Agency )

Washington DC


Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim-American woman to wear a veil while competing for the US Olympic team, has alleged a teacher "forcibly" removed a student's hijab in the city of Maplewood in New Jersey.

Muhammad said the incident occurred on Wednesday at Seth Boyden Elementary when teacher Tamar Herman allegedly attempted to remove the head covering, and was met with resistance from the female student who sought "to hold onto her hijab, but the teacher pulled the hijab off, exposing her hair to the class."

"Herman told the student that her hair was beautiful and she did not have to wear hijab to school anymore. Imagine being a child and stripped of your clothing in front of your classmates," she said. "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 protected— no matter their faith."

Muhammad's post has accrued over 36,000 likes on Instagram.

The South Orange-Maplewood School District said it is investigating the allegation, adding it "takes matters of discrimination extremely seriously." But it maintained that "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."

"We must abide by our legal obligations to keep personnel and student matters confidential," it said. "Any decision or outcome related to this will be reserved for after the completion of the investigation."

Still, the New Jersey branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Muslim advocacy group said the educator should be fired immediately without an investigation being completed.

"Racist teachers like this cannot be trusted around our children," Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said on Twitter.

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