LONDON: A teacher at a school in France has been suspended from his job and is being investigated by police following accusations made by a Muslim student of bigotry relating to his religion.
A student at the Joseph-Wresinski d’Angers Catholic School in the city of Angers lodged a formal complaint with local police, claiming that a teacher said Muslim students are a problem and suggested he “change his religion” during a discussion about French history, the Daily Mail reported. Police have launched an investigation into the student’s complaint, a local prosecutor said.
The teacher, who has not yet been named, lodged a complaint a day after the student, alleging “physical and verbal violence.”
According to the student, the incident began when the teacher digressed during a discussion about Catholic schools of the past.
He allegedly said: “Catholic schools should have continued to only accept Catholic students.” A student pointed at a Muslim classmate and responded: “But Catholic schools aren’t just reserved for Catholics.”
According to the Muslim student’s testimony, the teacher then said “that’s the problem,” adding: “Well, he could always change his religion.”
The student was said to be angry at the teacher’s response and stormed out of the room while shouting “racist.” For this the teacher lodged his complaint, saying the student pushed past him and yelled.
The teacher admitted to “inviting Muslims to join us and become Catholic,” but said the remark was intended as humor but “did not go down well with the class.”
Anthony Bélangé, director of the school, said 20 percent of his students are Muslim, and normally everyone at the school lives together “very peacefully.”
He added: “Conflicts between staff and students can happen, but the complaints have taken this to a new level.
“This is quite an emotionally charged situation and I’ve asked the students in the class to write a factual testimony of the events, which will be sent to the investigation team.”
France is home to around 5 million Muslims, the largest such population of any EU member state.