Published: 2018-11-28 13:57
Last Updated: 2018-11-28 14:53
The Egyptian Ministry of Education has launched an investigation into the verbal harassment of a female student at one of the schools in the Damietta Governorate.
The student was discriminated against by her very own teacher, who made fun of her skin colour for being too dark.
After answering several questions posed by her Arabic teacher, “Basmalah” was asked about her name. When given the answer, the teacher told his class: “Analyze the grammar of the sentence ‘Basmalah is a black student.’”
Basmalah burst into tears after hearing Mr. Sami Diab’s satirical comment; he responded by telling her off.
“If you don’t stop crying, I’ll kick you out of the classroom… did that word hurt you that badly?,” Diab said, according to local newspapers.
An embarrassed and hurt Basmalah refused to go to school the next day.
Soon after the incident took place, the hashtag “Basmalah is a beautiful student” went viral in Egypt.
Social media users stood by the eighth grader, demanding that Diab gets fired, to set an example for other teachers who might be behaving in the same manner.
Basmalah’s supporters also called for the activation of Article 53 in the Constitution, which confronts discrimination in all its forms.
On Tuesday evening, November 27, the Public Prosecutor’s office ordered the arrest of Diab, whom they said will be detained for four days while police investigate him for bullying and harassment, according to Almasry Alyoum newspaper.
Meanwhile, Diab denied any wrongdoing, claiming that he never intended to hurt Basmalah and that he had apologized to her when he saw how upset she was.
Diab also claimed that he never referred to Basmalah as “black,” but that he actually called her “dark/tanned,” noting that it makes no sense for him to insult someone who has a similar skin tone to his.
Tarek Shawki, the Minister of Education, invited Basmalah to his office to apologise for what had happened, and to assure her that the Ministry and Egypt do not condone any form discrimination.
Damietta’s Governor, Manal Michail, visited Basmalah’s school and presented the student with a flower bouquet and a kiss on the forehead during the morning assembly.