Student claims Muslim slur by teacher at Jacksonville-area school


Published: Friday, January 25, 2008 at 2:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2008 at 2:40 p.m.

ORANGE PARK, Fla. - A 16-year-old Muslim student said one of her teachers told a class that all Muslims are terrorists waging war against Americans and Christians, her father said Friday.

Darlene Mahla, a spokeswoman for the Clay County School District near Jacksonville, said an investigation is continuing and no decisions were expected this week on whether the Orange Park High School teacher, whose name has not been released, will face any disciplinary action.

"We are looking into whether what the student said he said is true," Mahla said.

Ferzani Rajpoot was taking a night adult education class in psychology in an attempt to graduate from high school early, said her father, Mohammed Shadid. He said the discussion began with the teacher talking about the presidential campaign and saying his favorite candidate would keep Muslim terrorists out of the U.S.

Shadid said his daughter told the teacher that she was Muslim and asked if he thought she was a terrorist. Shadid said the teacher did not reply, but turned the discussion to the meaning of the word jihad as "holy war."

Rajpoot said the more common meaning was a personal or spiritual struggle, Shadid said. The family has Pakistani heritage and Rajpoot was born in the U.S.

Shadid said the family asked the Council on American-Islamic Relations to deal with the incident and only wants to make sure it never happens again. He said he doesn't want the teacher fired, but believes he should be required to take a religious sensitivity class.

"I like the teacher and respect him, but he needs to be educated," Shadid said.

Saman Quraeshi, community director for CAIR in Jacksonville, said the group is meeting with school officials next week. She said school officials had told her that the teacher had apologized and regrets his actions.

"We are pleased with the outcome," she said.

Mahla said the teacher, who teaches both day and night classes, is still in the classroom. Rajpoot has dropped the class, her father said.

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