Islamic school suspends teachers over student's hate-filled tale
'God bless you, your efforts are good,' instructor wrote on Ottawa boy's story celebrating violence, hatred against Jews
The Ottawa Citizen
March 24, 2005
Two teachers at the Abraar Islamic school in Ottawa were suspended yesterday pending an investigation into the encouragement or incitement of hatred against Jews expressed in a young student's violence-laden writing project.
Principal Aisha Sherazi said the seven-member school board and administration were "shocked" by teacher involvement in the project that was brought to her attention by the Citizen yesterday morning, and decided at an emergency meeting to suspend the instructors.
One teacher was apparently involved in the artistic production of the eight-page story of killing and martyrdom. Handwritten in Arabic and titled The Long Road, the cover page was illustrated by a drawing of a burning Star of David beside a machine-gun and Palestinian flag atop the Dome of the Rock, an ancient Muslim shrine in Jerusalem.
The other teacher had written comments on the student's paper, praising the boy's story of revenge for the assassination by Israeli forces a year ago of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, a co-founder of Hamas, in retaliation for suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.
"God bless you, your efforts are good," the teacher wrote on the title page. "The story of the hero Ahmed and the hero Salah is still alive. The end will be soon when God unites us all in Jerusalem to pray there."
On the margins inside the story, the teacher had written a note endorsing the boy's fantasy of a young Ahmed Yassin and his friend, Salah El-Dine, ambushing Israeli soldiers.
"Without thinking, Ahmed took his M16 machine-gun and threw the bombs, and he showered the Jews; this resulted in the killing of the soldiers," the boy's text reads. "Salah said: 'You killed them all.' Ahmed answered: 'Praise be to God.'"
The fantasy heroes are quoted at the end of the story saying: "We promise God and the heroes of Al-Aksa that we will continue the path, we will continue in spite of the difficulties and the hardships until the victory or the martyrdom, we will not surrender; we will fight for the sake of God until the end."
Mrs. Sherazi declined to name the student, for privacy reasons, or the teachers until the investigation is complete. "Then we'll see what action we decide we want to take," she said.
Mrs. Sherazi, a 32-year-old teacher who took over as principal in recent months, does not speak or read Arabic. She expressed surprise about the drawing and the story, even though it had reportedly been displayed in a glass case at the school.
The Citizen obtained two translations of the story before asking the principal about it. She said such a subject was not on the curriculum, but it may have been a submission in a creative writing contest for the Arabic studies class, where students could choose their own topics.
"Upon the issue being brought to the attention of the school principal, an emergency meeting was held today by the board and administration," Mrs. Sherazi said in a prepared statement.
"The individuals involved were immediately suspended pending an internal investigation. Encouraging or inciting hatred is strictly prohibited at our school. We will take all measures to investigate this matter and ensure that it does not reoccur."
Islamic school suspends teachers over student's hate-filled tale
Mrs. Sherazi said in an interview that the situation is "very, very shocking for everybody involved. Emotions run high so it's a difficult issue in general, very upsetting to all concerned."
The Abraar school, established in 2000, teaches students full time from junior kindergarten up to Grade 8. About 260 students are enrolled at the school, which is located on Grenon Avenue, near Bayshore. The school web page says it is designed to provide "a proper Islamic environment for growing and learning" and to help preserve Islamic culture in Ottawa.
"A lot of hard work is being done and where kids are involved it's just a great shame when things like this happen," Mrs. Sherazi added.
Mary Schoones, an educational consultant who has worked part-time at the school on professional development for more than a year and teaches education at the University of Ottawa, said it would be a shame if the staff at the school was tarnished by the incident.
"During my tenure at the Abraar school I have had the privilege to work with all the Abraar teaching staff and found them to be warm, caring and professional," Ms. Schoones said.
"As a teacher who has dealt with equity issues in the past, I have found the staff to have accepted and welcomed my presence. At no time during my tenure at the school have I seen any racial comments towards any culture. In fact I have found the staff to be interested in learning about all aspects of Canadian culture. I would consider it a shame if all the hard work put in by staff at the school was tarnished by this incident ."
As translated from Arabic for the Citizen
A tragedy. It seems that nothing can be worse than what happened today. I think that you know what happened. It is the imam Sheikh Ahmed Yassine the martyr. Two weeks after the martyrization of the sheikh, our hero Ahmed Yassine was born in Gaza ...
My hope is for God to be pleased with me.
Ahmed grew up and was educated in the mosque where he had a religious education. He grew up with his friend Salah El-Dine knowing that Palestine should become free. They were always fighting, with the rest of the children, until Ahmed and Salah grew up and went to university. When Ahmed reached 33 years of age, a tragedy occurred ...
Ahmed entered his house and greeted his mother. He heard the broadcaster say: "Killing of 10 Zionist soldiers in fierce clashes in Gaza." Ahmed said: "This is a lie. Myself, Salah and the rest of the fighters, we killed 30 of them." His mother told him: "God bless you my dear."
One day, when Ahmed was returning home with his father from the Friday prayers, the soldiers killed him before his eyes. In the latter's house ... Om Ayman, the neighbour, said: "There is no power or strength except in God, God be with you Om Ahmed. I wish we can take revenge from them who killed Ayman while fighting and now it is Salah El-Dine who is fighting."
Om Ahmed said: "Do they have to fight? Salah and my son killed 10 Jews last week."
Om Ayman said: "We hope for God to protect them."
Om Ahmed: "Amen."
During the night ...
Om Ayman told her husband all of what happened. When she fell asleep, he got in touch with his officer: "I think that you have learned that it is an ambush!"
The same night, Ahmed was unable to sleep, he felt an imminent danger. Ten minutes later, the Israeli bulldozers came; he quickly woke up Salah then they ran away ...
The soldiers destroyed the two houses and searched in the rubble; they did not find Ahmed and Salah. The officer ordered to search for them.
The army searched but did not find them. After a short while, two soldiers astray from the rest of the troop passed by; Ahmed killed them both and took their weapons and after the two soldiers were killed, the two friends escaped to the mountains.One day ...
"I will go and find out what happened to our homes?" Ahmed said: "Good Salah, but be careful." An hour later, Salah came back and said in pain: "The commandos killed our families; we will take vengeance."
Ahmed said: "That is fine, the retaliation is coming and they will not escape us harming them."
Salah said: "God willing."
The cave in which Ahmed Yassine and Salah El-Dine lived was far from sight, but one day ...
"The place is besieged, they surrendered."
The voice of the officer.
Without thinking, Ahmed took his M16 machine gun and threw the bombs, and he showered the Jews; this resulted in the killing of the soldiers.
Salah said: "You killed them all."
Ahmed answered: "Praise be to God."
They immediately collected the ammunition and they moved from one cave to another.
A few days later ...
Ahmed said: "I learned that Shalom will pass through here; the street is 500 meters away from us, and I will kill him."
A week later ...
Ahmed armed himself with a machine gun and bombs and hid in the long grass and waited for the victim.
One hour later ...
Shalom's car passed by and Ahmed threw all the hand bombs he had, which resulted in the killing of Shalom. Following his killing, Ahmed fought a fierce fight with the guards, which resulted in Ahmed being wounded by the bullets of the occupation and which led to the killing of them all.
Following the killing of the soldiers, Ahmed saw a poster on which was written:
Wanted by Israel:
Ahmed Yassine - Salah El-Dine
In Gaza only
The award: US $1.000.000.000.000
Ahmed realized that, somehow, the Israeli learned of their presence. He hurried and told Salah about what happened.
After a long discussion, the two heroes decided to escape.
It was dawn. Ahmed quickly visited Ahmed Yassine's tomb (illegible) along with Salah. They said at the same time:
"We promise God and the heroes of Al-Aksa that we will continue the path, we will continue in spite of the difficulties and the hardships until the victory or the martyrdom, we will not surrender; we will fight for the sake of God until the end."
Done with our thanks to God.
Ran with fact box "The story", which has been appended tothe story.
© The Ottawa Citizen 2005