Muslim teacher sues for religious discrimination, FBI called in after alleged threat

Sireen HashemA New Jersey school board called the FBI on a Muslim teacher after it didn’t renew her contract because, it said, she made a threat.

Sireen Hashem, who taught at Hunterdon Central Regional High School, filed a lawsuit on Dec. 14 in which she claimed she was let go because of her Muslim faith, according to NJ.com.

The federal agents told Hashem they were investigating a report by the school board members that the teacher threatened them and said “they would be sorry” for not renewing her contract, according to NJ.com.

Hashem’s lawsuit named the school’s principal Suzanne Cooley, district superintendent Christina Steffner and supervising teachers Robert Zywicki and Rebecca Lucas as defendants, NJ.com reported.

“I respect the personnel confidentiality rights of all employees, and it would be inappropriate for me to publicly comment about job performance or personnel matters,” Steffner said in a statement.

“However, I want to very clearly state that Ms. Hashem’s allegations against me are untrue. I have never made a personnel decision based on any improper purpose. The statements attributed to me are factually wrong, and may even be defamatory. It is unfortunate that the district and I will have to defend this case, but will do so vigorously, so that the real facts may be presented in court. After an appropriate review of the allegations, further comments may be provided.”

According to Hashem’s lawsuit a student posted to Facebook in early September that the teacher of Palestinian descent was “attempting to instill anti-Semitic views in students and warned that plaintiff may hurt students who did not agree with her.”

The lawsuit also claimed that part of her firing stemmed from her showing her class a video of Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and said she was prohibited from mentioning Islam in her class.

“This is a teacher, a very qualified and very loved, very competent teacher, working for the benefit of the school. She was humiliated, discriminated against, and dismissed,” her lawyer, Omar Mohammedi, told NJ.com.

“But they didn’t stop there,” he added. “They went on and called the FBI on her. This is very problematic, and very dangerous. The treatment is beyond comprehension.”

According to NJ.com the federal agents told Hashem they were investigating a report by the school board members that the teacher threatened them and said “they would be sorry” for not renewing her contract.

NJ.com readers wrote that Hashem was not as innocent as she portrays herself to be.

“That teacher whom you are putting on a pedestal said that “911 was not an act of terrorism. It was an accident.” a reader who went by the handle Downtown wrote.

“The school district was more than fair to her. She was causing a disturbance that quite frankly students don’t need to witness in a place of education,” Thinking Scientist wrote.

“See something. Say something. Persons making threats should be investigated,” truth_justice_equity said.

Still others believed her story at face value and blasted the school district for being “Islamophobic.”

Watch her interview with CNN’s Don Lemon on Dec. 18 below.

[wpvideo anXOu0Wm]

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Carmine Sabia

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