Ontario’s Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board is investigating an incident of Islamophobia after video circulated on social media appearing to show a boy tearing pages and crumpling them from a Qur’an. The video, which CBC Toronto could not independently verify, appeared to show the student opening the Qur’an, tearing out pages, and crumpling them before pointing both middle fingers at it. School board officials said they became aware of the incident on March 3rd at Courtice Secondary School, near Oshawa, Ontario.
The school’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) held an event on the same day called “Ask a Muslim a question” to engage with non-Muslim students about the religion and to address Islamophobia. The Qur’ans, which were displayed in English translation, were for anyone interested in learning about the religion. Munawara Mazlomyar, a Grade 12 student at the school, said she was “stunned” by the incident. Mazlomyar said a student grabbed one of the Qur’ans on display and ripped and crumpled pages from it.
As a visibly Muslim woman, Mazlomyar said the incident made her feel unsafe at the school. She has called on the school and board to launch an educational campaign to counter Islamophobia and allow for classroom discussions on the issue. The school board officials said they are taking immediate steps to address this incident of hate towards persons or symbols of faith, and they have reached out to several community groups to work collaboratively, answer questions and concerns, and hear their suggestions about how to repair the harm that the incident has caused.
Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce has condemned the actions, saying he does not want any child, particularly Muslim children in that school or around the province or country to be disheartened. He has pledged to support them and continue to fund the organizations that advocate for them.