The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wants a criminal investigation to be opened following the release of Snapchat video showing a Tennessee-area student's hijab being removed. The group is also calling for the involved teacher, who is currently suspended without pay, to be fired.
"The video depicts a criminal assault, evidently motivated by the religious identity of the student, which makes this a possible hate crime," Gadeir Abbas, Senior Litigation Attorney for CAIR, told the Tennessean over the weekend. "We call on local law enforcement authorities to investigate this incident, determine who removed the student’s hijab, and take appropriate action to hold that person accountable."
The videos in question were captured inside a New Vision Academy Charter School classroom in Nashville and reportedly shared to social media by the teacher. One showed students touching the girl's hair as she tried to readjust her hijab with the caption "pretty hair," while the other was captioned "lol all that hair cover up." A clip was later sent to WSMV by "a concerned viewer" before being reviewed by Kasar Abdulla of Valor Collegiate Academies.
"As a female, and as a mother of three daughters, it should never be okay to rip off an article of clothing off of a female, period," Abdulla—who works as Valor's Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer—said. Abdulla also urged New Vision staff to "take a crash course" on the importance of the hijab as a symbol of one's faith and identity.
In a statement last week confirming the teacher's suspension, New Vision's Executive Director Tim Malone vowed the school "will be better" in the future. "The actions depicted in the Snapchat video do not reflect the values, culture, or climate of New Vision Academy," Malone said. "New Vision Academy will continue to emphasize that all staff members act in a way meant to empower and inspire our students. New Vision will use this video as an opportunity to press forward with increasing cultural sensitivity and awareness among all members of the New Vision community."
Since Trump's election in November, CAIR added, the nation has seen "an unprecedented increase" in hate incidents aimed at Muslims and other minority groups.