Qatar Academy teachers fret as former colleague jailed over alleged insults to Islam

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A recently fired Qatar Academy chemistry teacher has been in jail for the past week over charges of insulting Islam in front of students, his former colleagues have said.

The teacher, Dorje Gurung of Nepal, has denied the charge, which was apparently levied against him after an argument with 12-year-old male students that took place some two weeks ago at QA.

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Gurung was fired shortly after the incident and had been set to leave the country last weekend. But he was called to the police station last Wednesday and has not been home since, his colleagues have told Doha News.

The Nepalese embassy has confirmed that Gurung is in jail, but said they do not have any more details. A lawyer working for the embassy told Doha News that it is sending a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to request permission to meet with Gurung, who currently has no legal representation. Teachers said they are taking up a collection to help him pay for a lawyer.

According to LinkedIn, Gurung has taught at the Australian International School Saigon, the International School of Azerbaijan and Bishop Mackenzie International School. He pursued higher education in the US and UK and has not lived in Nepal for 24 years, his website biography states.

‘Terrorists’

Mike Hitchman, QA’s Senior School Principal, told Doha News he could not comment on the matter and referred all questions to Qatar Foundation, which said a statement is forthcoming.

UPDATE | 7:14pm

Qatar Academy has just issued this statement to Doha News:

We can confirm that an incident recently arose involving a staff member at Qatar Academy which resulted in formal complaints being made regarding the manner in which students were addressed.

Appropriate action was taken by the school’s leadership for the teacher to depart from Qatar Academy. Since leaving our employment, we have learned that the incident is under investigation by the authorities. Therefore, it is currently inappropriate to comment further.

According to multiple sources, Gurung is accused of alleging that “All Muslims are terrorists,” among other remarks.

One QA colleague, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his job, told Doha News that the ordeal has had a chilling effect on faculty members.

“A lot of teachers are very nervous about their own jobs,” he said. “If they reprimand or discipline students, what’s going to happen to them?”

“It’s all very unfortunate. These 12-year-olds have really spun it out. Almost every year, a teacher has been let go for obscure reasons. Everyone is really upset and anxious.”

The embassy said it expects the investigation into Gurung’s case “will take time.”

Does anymore know more? Thoughts?

UPDATE: The day after this story was published, Gurung appeared in court on charges of insulting Islam.

Credit: Top photo by Wesley Fryer; photo of Gurung courtesy of his website

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