Sacked Hijabi Teacher in Birmingham Sues School for Racial Discrimination

Birmingham, 26 Dzulhijjah 1437/28 September 2016 (MINA) – A Muslim hijabi teacher from Yardley in Birmingham is taking legal action against a school over claims she was sacked for objecting to children being shown a video of the 9/11 terror attacks, according to media reports.

Suriyah Bi, aged 24, lost her job at Heartlands Academy in Birmingham, just a week after being appointed a teaching assistant there, IINA reported.

She claimed that she was shown the door after she complained it was not appropriate for the 11 and 12-year-olds in her 7th class to watch the ‘X-rated’ clip – that showed the horrors of the attacks on World Trade Center in New York, in September 2001.

“They were subjected to graphic scenes and some were shocked and upset. The video not only showed the plane crashing into the Twin Towers but also showed people committing suicide by jumping to their deaths from the tower blocks,” she said.

Such young children should not be shown things like that because it is well-known that it can play on their minds and even induce them to kill themselves,” Bi said. The class had been studying a poem called Out of the Blue, by Simon Armitage, about a victim of the 9/11 terrorist attack. The poem is part of the AQA GCSE syllabus.

Bi who is an Oxford University Graduate, is now pursuing claims against the school for unfair dismissal and religious discrimination. The video was not mentioned in detail during the brief preliminary hearing, which dealt with technical and legal matters. But outside the hearing, Bi said: ‘It was shown to some 30 children during class.

“I understand the video was shown without the permission of the authorities. ‘It raised questions about what safeguards there are in schools to protect children. ‘These were children aged 11, of whom many knew little, or nothing, about the 9/11 horror,” She added.

“I was in the classroom when the video was shown and I quickly objected. Later, I was told to leave the school. ‘There was an investigation into the matter but I was dismissed for making a whistle blowing complaint.”

Bi said she believed no action was taken against the teacher who screened the video, but some people regarded the showing as ‘misguided’.

E-Act, who run the academy, told the tribunal judge Ron Broughton that the teacher no longer wanted to work for them. They complained there had been no need for the preliminary hearing and were considering making a claim for costs against Suriyah for causing delays.

Broughton said she could go ahead with her legal claims at a full hearing later this year and he would not consider a claim for costs at this stage. (T/P004/R04)


Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)