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by Alveena Salim

My new class is incredibly intolerent when it comes to other religions.

I spent a year trying to dispell weird stereotypes about Muslims..I constantly reassured other teachers that pigs and dogs do not offend me…I am not forced to cover…I am not being forced to be the third wife of some rich old Arab.

My new class have not made my job any easier.

I have a handful of opinionated, loud Muslims in my class.

I was going through the story of the birth of Jesus a week ago, according to the Bible. One little boy started to argue with me in front of all my support assistants.

“Miss, stop telling us STUPID stories. Jesus did not die on the cross. That’s STUPID. How can you die and come back to life. That’s STUPID”.

I tried to calm him down by explaining to him that, thats what Christians believe..and he had no right to call other people’s beliefs ‘stupid’. He refused to calm down and was asked to be excused from my ‘stupid lesson’.

Another little girl threw a fit just because I casually mentioned that the class fish ‘had died and gone to heaven’.

“Miss, how do you know that it went to heaven. You don’t have knowledge of the unseen. How do you know that the fish had faith in Allah? How do you know that it’s not in hell right now for its sins?

She refused to calm down until I admitted that I don’t know for sure that the fish is in heaven. Maybe I should have just told my class that the dead fish was too smelly to be thrown in the bin so I flushed it down the toilet.

Another boy in my class spends his time hitting the girls in my class cos “they’re naughty and don’t wear hijabs”.

We were learning Christmas songs in assembly a few weeks back (yes, Christmas comes early in primary schools) and one Muslim boy from my class decided to put his hands over his ears and and loudly shout “LA LA LA” to the music.

Apparently, his mum told him to do that.

Some of the Muslim kids in my class really, really annoy me. Only cos, their weird behaivour is often ascribed to me – “their Mozlem teacher”. The staffroom usually always has something to talk about cos of the antics of my class.

But it’s not just the Muslim’s in my class who are known to offend and cause a scene.

I have a couple of Johavah’s witnesses in my class who need to be excused from assembly – once I forgot to leave them in the classroom and they started to scream in the assembly hall when the headteacher recited the school prayer. They also cry when I get the kids in my class to sing ‘happy birthday’ to one another.

I’m dreading Christmas this year.

I’ll have both the Muslim and Johavah witness children doing my head in. And I’ll be busy trying to calm them down, whilst trying to reassure my colleagues that we’re not crazy…