Hundreds of UTHS students protest after alleged swap between Muslim student and teacher

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EAST MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) – Hundreds of students walked out of United Township High School in protest Thursday morning after an alleged exchange between a Muslim student and a UTHS teacher.

“I came to class after third period and told this teacher that I had to go to prayer because I had missed my prayer and the teacher immediately said ‘I don’t respect this’ and he didn’t add no clarification. why he didn’t respect it. I was so confused and felt so hurt by this and I asked him why, and he said he thought I was lying because Muslims have a certain time to pray and that I didn’t have to pray at that time but I could pray whenever I want,” says Omnia Salih, a Muslim student at UTHS.

Salih says teacher let her go to pray but she was hurt by teacher’s response to her request.

“I just felt very invalidated and felt like my religion was tiny like it could be changed to a broad term but – it just made me feel really bad about myself,” Salih said.

In a press release sent to TV6 by UTHS Superintendent Jay Morrow, the district said, “Prior to this incident, UTHS, in coordination with our Islamic student organization, developed a retreat room. In this room, students of all faiths can honor their religion. In a conversation with our group of Islamic students, it was agreed that prayer times would be allowed. The teacher allowed the student to exercise this opportunity.

The statement went on to say, “United Township embraces our cultural and religious diversity. This is demonstrated by our formally organized group of Islamic students, as well as our long-standing association of Christian athletes and our P7 organization for practicing Christian students.

Salih says her practice is especially important to her during Ramadan; a month-long Muslim observance of prayer and reflection.

“Now that it’s Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, I was like you know, if it makes some people uncomfortable, it’s not my fault because that’s who I am and I’m not going to change for someone else,” Salih said.

Salih says she wants it to be clear that she was not deprived of her prayer time. She says the teacher’s response was hurtful. Salih said she did not organize the outing herself, but was grateful to her classmates who showed up in droves to support her.

“Everyone was saying we have your back and they are waving their signs of support and encouragement. I could have cried during the protest, it was just so much,” Salih said, “I’m glad it happened. product today. Not just because of the discomfort it added to school, but also because of the exposure it got. If you’re not uncomfortable, it won’t there’s no room for change. So by what’s happening especially after so long at United Township – we’ve got a lot of things slipping under the table. So I think it’s really set an example of students who talk about how they feel because it validates how they feel,” Salih said.

In a press release, the school district said, “This protest was in response to a rumor that a student was denied the opportunity to pray. Our investigation revealed that the accusation was false. United Township fully supports the teacher who is being wrongly accused and unjustly slandered on social media.

In an interview with TV6, Omnia Salih told TV6 that she never said the teacher denied her the chance to pray, but was told the act made the teacher feel bad. comfortable.

TV6 contacted Brian Schou, the teacher involved in the alleged incident.

He replied, “While I must respect the rules of student confidentiality, I feel able to share that contrary to many claims, I did indeed allow a student to leave my class to pray. I certainly did not not say any of the things attributed to me about this student’s social media posts. Although I did state that I was uncomfortable with the student lacks some necessary instructions, I am very comfortable with the practice of prayer in Islam and all other religions. I am saddened that my comments have been twisted into statements that are quite the opposite of my character and my beliefs.

As for other public assertions that I am ignorant or insensitive to basic Muslim practices, let me respond simply by stating that I have been teaching a global studies course at UT for seventeen years, one of which aspects is to investigate the major religions of the world. As part of this study, we discuss the five pillars of Islam, and although I am not an expert on the Muslim religion, I am fully aware of the expectations of constant prayer and I am even aware of the specific deadlines which must be respected. in the current Ramadan season.

I stand by my personal record of thirty-one years of promoting tolerance, understanding, and coexistence among wonderfully diverse groups of students, and salute UTHS’s efforts to make all students feel valued and welcome.

Copyright 2022 KWQC. All rights reserved.

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