A group of Somali immigrants are calling for the termination of a teacher who showed students cartoon images of Muhammad.
Deepa Bhandaru had been teaching free classes at the Refugee Women’s Alliance in Seattle. According to The Seattle Globalist, she showed her class cartoon images of Muhammad the day after the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris.
The topic of the workshop was religious pluralism and freedom of speech but some people within the community felt the lesson plan was offensive.
A group of 15 to 20 people gathered in front of the Refugee Women’s Alliance Friday afternoon, demanding that the teacher be fired.
“We don’t want someone to brainwash our children,” Hassan Diis, Somali community activist and devout Muslim, told The Daily Caller. “The prophet is very important to us.
“We want her to leave this community alone,” Diis continued. “We want the organization to hire someone who understands the culture and values our immigrant Muslim community.”
Bhandaru, who just recently received her Ph.D in political science from the University of Washington, has apologized in the form of letters. She sent a 2,300-word letter to her colleagues at the Refugee Women’s Alliance and a 500-word letter to the Abu-Bakr Islamic Center, a local mosque.
Still, Bhandaru questions Diis’ intentions, adding that none of the students found the workshop offensive. She told The Stranger that she believes Diis just wants attention.
“They’ve been manipulating the fact that the people don’t speak the language,” Bhandaru said of Diis, who was handing out preprinted signs in English, according to sources on the scene. “The parents who are upset aren’t the parents of my kids. They’re trying to gain power politically.
"There’s a political vacuum in their community," Bhandaru added. “There aren’t a lot of organizations serving them except for the mosque.
“For Hassan, maybe this is his Ferguson moment. He wants the spotlight.”
A protester shared his thoughts with The Seattle Globalist. "I don't think it's free speech to talk about somebody's religion, somebody's beloved prophet like that," Fatma Yessef said.
An investigation is currently underway by officials at the Refugee Women’s Alliance to determine if Bhandaru will continue teaching there.