Teacher suspended after allegedly telling Muslim student ‘we don’t negotiate with terrorists’

Remark reportedly came in response to 17-year-old asking for more time to complete homework assignment

Chiara Giordano
Friday 29 October 2021 13:21 BST
(Ridgefield Memorial High School/Twitter)
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A teacher has been suspended after allegedly telling a Muslim student “we don’t negotiate with terrorists”.

The unnamed staff member reportedly made the remark to Mohammed Zubi after the 17-year-old asked for more time to complete a homework assignment during a lesson at Ridgefield Memorial High School, in New Jersey.

The teenager said he had been left “in shock” by the incident and too “uncomfortable” to go back to school.

He told the ABC7: “He responded saying, ‘We don’t negotiate with terrorists’, so I look around in shock, there’s people laughing, and there’s other people in shock, and I turn around and ask my friend, ‘Did he really just say that?’ and she said yes.

“I don’t want to see anyone, and I’ve been in my room all day – don’t want to see my friends, especially after what that teacher said to me.”

Selaedin Maksut, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in New Jersey, said the alleged remark “perpetuates the stereotypes against Arabs and Muslims”.

Speaking on behalf of the family to NBC, he said: “You’d think 20 years later these would be dying down – but here they are, being used by a teacher in a classroom, so it’s very alarming to see.”

Confirming the teacher had been suspended, Ridgefield School District said it “fully intends to pursue any and all legal remedies”.

The district said in a statement: “The Ridgefield School District has absolutely no tolerance for any sort of discrimination against any student or staff member.

“The district strives to create an inclusive environment where students’ and staff members’ race, religion, national origin and sexual orientation are embraced.

“While the district cannot legally comment on personnel or student matters, the public should be aware that the district immediately suspended the staff member while it is conducting a full investigation.

“Additionally, the district has notified law enforcement for its assistance.

“The district fully intends to pursue any and all legal remedies against the staff member as any discriminatory conduct has absolutely no place in our district.”

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