A substitute teacher in New York City is out of a job after he allegedly took off a Muslim student’s hijab without her permission.
City Education Department officials fired Oghenetega Edah, 31, after he was accused by 8-year-old Safa Alzockary of forcefully yanking her Islamic headscarf off her head, so hard that it allegedly warranted a trip to the hospital for damage to her right eye, the New York Daily News reported.
Safa, a second-grader at Public School 76 in the Bronx, said that Mr. Edah had ordered her to remove her hijab and she refused. Police sources told the Daily News that Safa was misbehaving in class before the incident occurred.
“He said, ‘I want to see your hair.’ I thought he was joking,” Safatold local news station WPIX. “I said, ‘You can’t, because if you did I will tell the principal.’ And then he just started laughing and took it off.”
The 8-year-old said she put the hijab back on and was holding it on her head when the teacher pulled it off again.
“He yanked it. He pulled it so hard. I was so mad. I was going to cry so bad — and I was crying,” she said.
Safa was treated at Jacobi Medical Center for irritation to her right eye after the May 2 ordeal, the Daily News reported.
The girl’s father, Mohamed Alzockary, said he immediately alerted school officials and police of the incident.
“I didn’t expect a teacher to do that to a child,” he told the Daily News. “She’s OK right now … but kids, they’re nervous.”
Mr. Edah, who started working in city schools in January, was fired but not arrested.
A City Department of Education spokesperson told WPIX that “this alleged behavior is completely unacceptable. This individual was removed from the school immediately and his employment has been terminated.”
Safa said she’s proud of herself for standing up for her beliefs.
“I feel so proud of myself that I handled myself up. Even though the teacher took off my hijab, I didn’t go to school without my hijab. And I’m proud of my religion,” she said.
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