France: Muslim teacher victim of racism

France: Muslim teacher victim of racism

Malika (assumed name), 30, an English teacher at the Abel-Didelet secondary school in Estrées-Saint-Denis, was the victim of two racist attacks, but now she wishes to break the silence and speak in the name of all victims of everyday racism.  The young woman of North African origin says that she knows prejudices exist, but was not expecting such an outburst of hate.

Strong emotions are now surfacing at the Abel-Didelet secondary school in Estrées-Saint-Denis (France).  Faced with a resurgence of racism acts against a Muslim colleague, a group of teachers in this village school of 723 students stopped work symbolically for two hours Tuesday morning.

The incident on Friday morning led teachers to react.  That day, two students of the third year (~15) put a sausage on her desk as a provocation, while the young English teacher was passing out a letter denouncing the upsurge of violence and racism.  Malika says that she never talked about her origins or religion, and that during class she's neither Arab nor a Muslim, but a teacher first.  The students in question, who are a minority, are simply going by her Arab sounding name.  It's a sad illustration of prejudicea which exist in the rural areas, where some people aren't accustomed to differences.  The teacher doesn't wear any distinctive religious dress.  She says she doesn't eat pork, but that's it.  She adds that racism is sadly a reality, and that she is far from alone, many of the students confront it every day.  The worst of all is that it has almost become legitimate and normal for some people.

A few days earlier (May26th) her classroom was ransacked while she wasn't there, with swastikas and the initials 'SS' written in chalk on the blackboard.  Malika says that when somebody allows himself to do something like this, it clearly concerns your identity, it's isn't just that you hate the teacher, but the person.  Malika now says she would like to be reassigned to a city school.

A history teacher who's responsible for the rebellion says that enough is enough, and that these acts are unacceptable and cannot be ignored.  Tuesday morning the principal finally expelled the two troublemakers.  A temporarily expulsion for eight days, pending a meeting of the Disciplinary Board which will decide whether to add to the punishment.  Three other students would be targeted as well.

These incidents come in an atmosphere which has been deteriorating since the beginning of May.  One teacher says that a fight, based on racism, between a hundred students was just recently avoided.  A new letter to remind students of the punishments for racist acts was distributed to students Tuesday.  The Muslim English teacher intends to lodge a complaint, though a police agent at the Estrées-Saint-Denis station said they have not been approached yet.  The principal of the school did not wish to comment.

Source: Le Parisien 1, 2  (French)

No comments: