Muslim student’s response to teacher’s “joke” once again raises questions on Islamophobia in India
A Muslim student at a renowned university in Manipal’s Udupi district lashed out at a teacher for allegedly calling him a “terrorist” during class
A Muslim student at a renowned university in Manipal’s Udupi district lashed out at a teacher for allegedly calling him a “terrorist” during class. The 45-second video of the incident, which is being widely circulated across social media platforms, shows the student confronting the professor and calling him out on the Islamophobic remarks he made in a classroom full of students.
In the video, the student can be seen confronting the teacher on his “joke”. “26/11 is not funny, being a Muslim in this country and facing all of this every day is not funny.”
While the professor can subsequently be seen apologising to the student, saying that he [student] is equal to his son, the student questions, “Will you treat your son like this? Will you name him a terrorist? In front of everyone in the class? Sorry alone will not help, sir. You are a teacher. It doesn’t change how you think."
The incident took place on 25 November, as confirmed by the students who wished to stay anonymous, reported Maktoob. The significance of the date itself did not go unnoticed. This was a day before the 14th anniversary of the 26 November terror attacks in which as many as 140 Indians and 26 foreigners lost their lives.
“When Professor wanted to ask a question to the student, Student told his name, after hearing his name "XYX" clearly, he was like 'ohh you are Kasaab?' This wasn't just a coincidence as it happened on 26/11,” Mohammad Zubair, a fact-checker later shared his conversation with one of the students regarding the incident on Twitter.
The professor’s remarks drew widespread criticism and condemnation from Indian journalists and activists. Ashok Swain, a professor at Uppsala University, remarked on this “what it has been to be a minority in India”.
The other students, however, can be seen quietly observing the confrontation between the student and the teacher, while one of them recorded a video that later went viral. While calling the video emblematic, Hussain Haidry, an Indian spoken word poet wrote: “A Muslim person defending one’s dignity, while others: sniggering/ looking away/ watching quietly/ feeling sympathy/ unsure of being in bad books of authority by speaking up/ thinking why so hyper and should shut up and focus on other real issues like topic of lecture.”
He added that he understood that some students may be feeling bad about the mistreatment. “I can also estimate their fear, or support of bigotry. But I still can’t help but think that an interjection for even one or two was probably possible.”
Rana Ayyub, a prominent Indian journalist wrote, “I feel terribly sorry for the young minds in India who are witnessing this prejudice and hate even in spaces that are meant to be safe and shield them from this bigotry that is all pervasive.”
“Why are our children being compelled to protest in spaces meant to be their safe heavens,” she questioned.
After the huge backlash, the university administration suspended the teacher and ordered an inquiry. The student was given counselling, the institute said.
"The institute has already initiated an inquiry into the incident and the concerned staff has been debarred from classes till the inquiry is over. We would like everyone to know that the institute does not condone this kind of behavior and this isolated incident will be dealt with in accordance with the laid down policy," said its statement. It also asserted that it was proud to have a vast diversity on campus and was committed to upholding the constitutional values of treating everyone alike.