The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation says it is concerned by an alleged Islamophobic incident at a Johannesburg school, where a grad seven learner was called a ‘terrorist’.

“The incident involved a teacher allegedly calling a grade 7 Muslim learner a ‘terrorist’ after reportedly hitting his topi (Islamic skullcap) off his head,” says the Foundation, adding that the incident has been confirmed by the Gauteng Department of Education.

The incident occurred at Apex Primary School in Lenasia, an area with a significant Muslim population.

Despite the teacher involved allegedly distributing an apology letter, the Department will investigate the matter and impose disciplinary action if deemed necessary.

“If the allegations against the teacher are found to be true, it raises serious concerns about ongoing incidents of racism in SA schools,” says AKF Director Neeshan Balton. “It is extremely worrying that Islamophobia may have found its way into a classroom.”

Balton suspects that the “rise” of Donald Trump may have given racists confidence around the world, leading to incidents such as the ‘coffin case’ and now this. “Expressions of religious intolerance have not however, been a major feature of racism in SA schools and we hope that this incident and the few others reported to date do not mark the start of a new trend,” he adds.

The Department of Education has arranged for learners, teachers and governing body members to attend a”religious tolerance and diversity” workshop at the school.

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