Education - Teachers Suspended For Anti-Muslim Materials
Some teachers at the Holmesglen Institute, a TAFE school in southeast Melbourne, have been suspended pensing an investigation of class materials taken from an anti-Islam extremist group in the US.
TAFE student Tayeba Quddus was checking on upcoming class materials when she was "shocked" to see a presentation claiming at as many as 300 million Muslims in the world are "radicals who want to destroy and murder". The source for the extremely inflammatory claim turned out to be extremely questionable: Brigitte Gabriel of the US ultra-conservative group "ACT! For America".
The group is described by the New York Times as drawing on conservative evangelicals and the former Tea Party to push its anti-Islamic message. It has mobilized to protest halal food served in public schools and discouraged Jews and Christians from conducting interfaith services with Muslims. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has described it as "one of the main sources of growing anti-Muslim bigotry" in the US - and now, someone has brought it into Australia.
"I couldn’t really believe what I was reading and that it was actually published there for us to learn", Ms. Quddus told the SBS. "For me, it felt like the teacher was using her platform to teach Islamophobic ideas in the class."
She asked the teachers to remove the offensive material, but they told her it was there to provoke in-class discussion. The class, btw, were Youth Work and Drugs Counseling. So, Ms. Quddus took her complaint to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Islamic Council of Victoria.
Holmesglen Institute said the material in "inappropriate", but had not yet been delievered in lectures.
"We have called the complainant to acknowledge their concerns and issued an unreserved apology for the offence caused," Holmesglen said in a statement. "The teachers involved are being suspended until the investigation concludes."