Browsing 'qatar academy' News

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The Qatar Academy teacher who was jailed for 10 days on charges of insulting Islam and then released yesterday has left the country and returned home to Nepal.

In a public message, Dorje Gurung thanked supporters for their help:

I still can find no words to thank you enough, words that sufficiently express my own and family’s gratitude, for the gift the thousands of you have given me. The gift of freedom! (Ask any of my friends and colleagues Qatar Academy who received me upon my release yesterday afternoon—I was just a wreck. All I could do was cry and bawl.)

Many who know me well know firstly that I don’t make promises easily, certainly not publicly, and secondly that any promise I make i don’t make lightly. As today is an exceptional day and in appreciation of your incredible thoughts and actions, I’m going make a promise to you all, to my amazing friends, teachers, colleagues, students and well wishers around the world and to myself.

A promise to make every effort to make this gift of freedom worth the time and effort you invested in winning it for me.

Gurung, an internationally renowned educator, was fired from QA last month over remarks made to students and subsequently jailed on charges of insulting Islam, a felony in Qatar.

What happened

According to several colleagues of Gurung’s, he had a history of problems with certain students who did not respect his authority, in part because of his nationality.

The conflict came to a head last month during an argument with three 12-year-old boys in the school cafeteria, in which they taunted him and poked him, Gurung told friends. In response to the teasing, he said something to the effect of, how would you like to be stereotyped, ie called a terrorist?

Within days, the teacher was fired and jailed.

Gurung’s arrest mobilized friends, colleagues and supporters from around the world, who over the weekend gathered some 13,000 signatures in an online petition demanding his release.

UPDATE | May 14, 2013

Gurung’s petition on Change.org generated signatures from people in 168 countries or territories, according to Randall Smith, the organization’s deputy director.

“At the peak more then 450 people were signing per hour and it was one of the most popular petitions on Change.org,” he told Doha News.

The most signatures came from the US, the UK, Nepal and Canada, Australia and Qatar, in that order, he added.

In addition to putting Qatar back in the global spotlight, Gurung’s case also sparked questions among educators here about whether they will face similar repercussions for disciplining students.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo of Gurung greeting his parents in Nepal by Alka Shrestha/ courtesy of Free Dorje on Tumblr

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A former Qatar Academy chemistry teacher held on charges of insulting Islam has just been released from jail, his friends have told Doha News. 


UPDATE | 8:48pm

Gurung is expected to leave Qatar soon, according to his colleagues, who said they won’t breathe sighs of relief until that happens.

The teacher has apparently been given assurances that the charges against him will be dropped. Selywn Price, a longtime friend of Gurung’s who spoke with him on the phone this evening, told Doha News:

He was very grateful for, and overwhelmed by, the level of support he had received from his friends, family, and colleagues from around the world, and by complete strangers who had supported him on the testimony of those who do know him.


Gurung, who was fired from QA last month over remarks he made to students, was set to fly out to his native country of Nepal shortly thereafter. But those plans were derailed after he was picked up on May 1 and held at the Al Rayyan police station for 10 days.

According to Gurung’s colleagues, the teacher had been responding to harassment from the students and jokes about his nationality by asking something to the effect of, how would you like to be stereotyped, i.e. called a terrorist?

International attention

In the five days since his arrest became public, an international campaign launched by friends, colleagues, students and others has been organized to urge his release. And an online petition condemning his arrest that was started on Friday has already garnered more than 12,500 responses.

When reached for comment, an official at the Nepalese embassy in Qatar said they still had not been able to talk to Gurung.

Thoughts?

Credit: Screenshot from Free Dorje’s Tumblr page

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An international petition condemning the jailing of a Nepalese teacher in Qatar has amassed more than 3,000 signatures in less than 24 hours, and continues to climb.

Dorje Gurung, who taught chemistry at Qatar Academy before being fired last month over remarks made to his students, faces charges of insulting Islam, a felony crime here that is punishable by up to seven years in jail. He has denied the allegations.

Qatar Academy has acknowledged it fired a teacher last month, but declined to comment further on the matter.

The petition, posted on Change.org, is addressed to Mohamed Bin Abdulla Al-Rumaihi, Qatar’s ambassador to the US, and will be submitted once a “critical mass” of signatures are gathered. The aim is to get 100,000 supporters, said Nathan Armogan, the US-based person who launched the petition.

International support

In addition to listing Gurung’s extensive international teaching experience, the petition calls for due process of the man’s case and asks for his prompt release.

Among those who have signed it appear to be friends, colleagues and  classmates of Gurung’s from around the world. It reads in part:

In his professional capacity, he has mentored and befriended people of many different religious and cultural backgrounds, and he has consistently garnered love and respect from his peers, friends and students who are all shocked by the recent events…

There is growing international attention to his case, and those monitoring the developments fervently hope that due process will be followed, and that Qatar will uphold its international reputation of being a tolerant and welcoming country. Given the facts of this case and Mr. Gurung’s long standing professional credentials, those of us who are following his case hope that justice will be done, and Mr. Gurung will be promptly released.

Meanwhile, a Facebook group called “Free Dorje Gurung” has also been set up, with members mobilizing a campaign to contact government officials in Qatar, the management of Qatar Academy, international human rights groups and anyone else who could help with his case.

There is also talk of setting up a legal defense fund. In that capacity, Dr. Najeeb Al Nuaimi, the lawyer defending the imprisoned Qatari poet, told Doha News today that he is ready to represent Gurung.

“I think he did not do something wrong – that’s my impression,” he said. I” will represent him, inshAllah.”

Gurung is currently in jail and is expected to make another court appearance in two weeks.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo courtesy of Free Dorje on Facebook