Classroom topics ranging from ham to the Holocaust have been known to inspire complaints, demands, and legal threats by offended Muslims, but sometimes even violence can erupt.
Consider the case of Gary Smith, head of religious education at Central Foundation Girls' School in the Islamist stronghold of Tower Hamlets, a borough of London, England. Recent court proceedings illuminate an incident from last July, when four men attacked Smith with a knife, a metal rod, and a cement block as he walked on the street, leaving him with significant injuries. Why? "They did not approve of him teaching religion to Muslim girls," the Daily Mail reports:
Detectives made secret recordings of the gang's plot to attack Mr. Smith prior to the brutal assault.
The covert audio probe captured the gang condemning Mr. Smith for "teaching other religions to our sisters," the court heard.
"The evidence from what was said on the probe points overwhelmingly to a religious motive for this attack," the prosecutor concluded. The men pleaded guilty and will remain in custody until sentencing. Police have denied knowing of the gang's intentions beforehand.
This is not the first example of a teacher in Europe being physically assaulted because his or her benign words or actions at school had distressed Muslim sensibilities:
Two years ago in Denmark, Rabih Abou Khamis, an ethnic Palestinian Muslim, pummeled and bit an instructor who had shaken his nine-year-old daughter's hand at the start of a parent-teacher meeting. In the words of a police superintendent, the father insisted that the educator's behavior had been "indecent" and "gone too far and offended his honor." Khamis was convicted and sentenced to prison time.
Last year in France, a teacher claimed that a student had sprayed her and an assistant with "teargas" during a lesson on 9/11. She stated that "he stood up and declared that al-Qaeda is not terrorist and that neither is the Taliban," before pulling out a canister and dousing them. According to a Dutch news item, the student is of North African origin. IW has been unable to determine the outcome of the criminal complaint filed against the teen.
Non-Muslims commit the vast majority of violence suffered by teachers in the West, but what of religiously motivated violence targeting educators? Robust statistics are lacking. However, combining the above cases with the paucity of comparable incidents sparked by teachers' perceived insults to religions other than Islam, there is reason to suspect that in this genre of faith-driven brutality, Islamists once again account for a disproportionate share of assailants.
One thing is certain: sooner or later, the supremacist ideology of radical Islam spawns outbreaks of violence. Minimizing such violence must begin with combating the ideology at its core.