A teacher in Florida was fired after allegedly disrupting Muslim students as they prayed and accusing them of doing “magic,” according to a TikTok video that has gone viral.
The video — which was posted on Thursday and liked over 880,000 times — shows three Franklin Academy Muslim students performing a prayer as one of them recites “Surah At-Tin” from the Quran.
As they take to the floor in prostration, a teacher is heard in the background.
“Hold on, this my office,” the teacher said. “And y’all doin’ all this magic.”
The teacher is then heard blowing a whistle and trying to get the students’ attention before walking over them as they prayed, almost stepping on one of their hands in the process.
“I believe in Jesus, so I’m interrupting the floor,” the teacher said.
Much like Christians, Muslims believe in Jesus as well.
“And why they in my office?” the teacher asks, to which someone else responds, “they’re praying.”
It’s not clear at this time why the students were praying in the teacher’s office or if they had permission to do so.
The five daily Islamic prayers are very sacred for Muslims, and once started, should not be disrupted by others or those praying themselves. During the prayers, Muslims keep their heads bowed and prostrate a number of times, depending on the prayer and which time of day it falls under.
In a statement about the incident, Franklin Academy said they were made aware of “a very troubling TikTok video” on Thursday and that they “do not tolerate discriminatory behavior in any form.”
“While we do not discuss personnel matters, we can share that the teacher in question is no longer a member of the Franklin Academy staff,” the statement, posted to Facebook, read.
In another Facebook statement, the school said one of its teachers was being “mistakenly and falsely identified in the comments of many social media posts” as the teacher in question, and asked the community to help dispel the rumor.
Franklin Academy would not identify the teacher, or respond to questions inquiring when this incident took place.
Incidents like this are why it’s important for school staff to have religious awareness, according to Abdullah Jaber, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Florida chapter (CAIR-Florida).
“It is of utmost importance that school administrators and staff know basic faith practices to serve students practicing their faith, in this case, Muslims,” said Jaber.
Video of the incident circulating online has garnered a lot of outrage.
“She’s supposed to protect them,” one comment on the TikTok, liked over 36,000, times read. “An(d) be educated enough to know that isn’t magic, that they’re just praying!”
In 2022, CAIR-Florida “noted a sharp rise in inbound calls regarding anti-Muslim bullying and discrimination in school.”
About 48% of Muslim families surveyed by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding ( ISPU) reported having a school-aged child who “faced religious-based bullying” in 2022, according to a report.
“One-fifth of Muslim families report that the bullying occurred nearly every day,” the non-profit said in the report.
According to the ISPU, Muslim parents reported that their children were bullied for their faith at school by students and adults — 64% of them said the bullying came from other students at school and 42% said it came from a teacher or school official.
The bullying was online too, with 31% of the families reporting their child was bullied by other students online and 19% claiming a teacher or school official was the source of the cyber bullying.
“In sum, many Muslim children and parents have to worry about religious-based bullying at school and online from other students and even trusted adults in the school,” the ISPU said.