A science teacher at Shiloh Middle School in a pleasant, tree-lined suburb of Atlanta, Ga. asked a 13-year-old, hijab-clad Muslim girl if she was carrying a bomb in her backpack.
The incident occurred on Monday, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The eighth-grade girl’s name is Faiza Osman, according to the New York Daily News.
The unidentified female teacher made the comment as she was encouraging students to set their backpacks aside. In a nutshell, the teacher said something like: What’s in your bag? A bomb?
Everybody in the classroom pretty quickly realized the offensive nature of the comment. There were audible gasps.
There was no bomb.
The teacher asked Osman to accompany her into the hallway and apologized for what she described as a joke gone horribly wrong — particularly in light of current events. (RELATED: Jihadi & Clyde: FBI Concludes San Bernardino Shooters WERE Radicalized)
Osman said she was hurt by the teacher’s comment.
“It was very disrespectful,” the girl told the Journal-Constitution. “I came there to learn.”
Osman’s father, Abdirizak Aden, said his daughter texted him about the incident. He was mad when he got the news.
“We are from Africa. We are Muslims. We live in America,” he told the Atlanta newspaper. “I didn’t teach my children to hate people or to think they are better than other people. I don’t want nobody to treat them like that.”
Aden is a truck driver and grocery store owner who immigrated to the United States with his family from Somalia.
Osman said she arrived in America in fifth grade.
Gwinnett County Public Schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach verified reports that the incident did, in fact, occur. Roach said school officials don’t think the teacher asked about a backpack bomb with any malice.
Shiloh Middle School principal Eli Welch III spoke to the teacher. He apologized to the girl and her family.
Initially Aden, the girl’s father, said he had planned to remove his daughter from the school. He has since decided to accept the apology and keep her enrolled. He said he wants more training about religious sensitivity for teachers, though.
The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has weighed in of the kerfuffle, calling it evidence of “Islamophobia.”
The teacher’s comment “shows the level of Islamophobia impacting people’s relationships with one another,” CAIR spokesman Yusof Burke said in a statement obtained by the Journal-Constitution.
CAIR was listed by the U.S. government as an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme that provided funding to the terror group Hamas.
The teacher’s backpack bomb question at Shiloh Middle School comes a few months after Ahmed Mohammed, a 14-year-old Muslim boy, brought a curious-looking disassembled clock to an Irving, Texas school and ended up arrested over fears the object was a bomb. Mohammed and his family later left America altogether. They have filed a $15 million lawsuit for damages. (RELATED: Clock Boy Leaving America To Live In Theocratic Authoritarian Slave State)