Teacher accused of insulting Islam leaves Qatar, arrives in Nepal

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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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