Muslim Teacher Fired for Mentioning Islam in Class

In case anyone was still wondering whether American Islamophobia is an emergency: Recently, a Muslim-American high school history teacher of Palestinian descent, Sireen Hashem, was fired from her job at Hunterdon Central High School in New Jersey after being banned from mentioning Islam in class.

As if that wasn’t enough, Hashem and her attorney report that soon after she was dismissed, she received a knock on the door from… Jesus Christ, the FBI.

Hashem’s apparent offense? Using the same teaching materials as everyone else.

Hashem had shown a video about Malala Yousafzai in class — a pedagogical move apparently unoffensive in the classrooms of other, non-Muslim teachers. Hashem also used a writing prompt touching on Osama bin Ladin. Both pedagogical moves, reads the suit contesting the dismissal, were considered acceptable from other (non-Muslim) teachers. According to the suit, Hashem was told that “she could not teach current events in the same manner as her non-Arab, non-Palesinian, and non-Muslim colleagues.”

Racism in the age of Trump is not the territory of ignorant people totally unlike “us,” but fundamental to everywhere from our most prestigious universities to the places we grew up.

This incident — Hashem’s firing — literally happened in the place I grew up. Hunterdon County, New Jersey is the sixth richest county in the United States. According to the 2010 census, It is 91 percent percent white. It is not the abstract working class white Trump middle America of wealthy liberal fantasies. It is a place full of nice, white college graduates who smile at each other in the grocery store. I am ashamed, but not surprised, that this has happened at home.

Because home, of course — the imagined home, the imagined safe space, the imagined heartland where a whitewashed vision of “America” is made — is exactly where shit like this happens.

A number of Hashem’s students have taken to social media to support her — here’s to more doing the same.

Photo credit: NJ.com

Reina Gattuso is passionate about empowering conversations around queerness, sexual ethics, and social movements with equal parts rhapsody and sass. Her writing has appeared at Time, Bitch, attn:, and The Washington Post. She is currently pursuing her masters.

Reina Gattuso writes about her sex life for the good of human kind.

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