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London: Christian Greek Cypriot teacher «forced out» of his job denies insulting Muslim girl over headscarf

444A primary school teacher who claims he was forced out of his job today denied making offensive remarks about a Muslim pupil’s headscarf.
Nicholas Kafouris (foto), who is suing his former school for racial discrimination, told the girl she was ‘wearing a headscarf for no reason’, according to a parent.
The parent claimed Mr Kafouris was promoting ‘Christianity as better than Islam’ and complained to the headteacher, an employment tribunal heard.
He denied making the comment, insisting it would make ‘no sense’ for him to have said it.
The teacher claimed that complaints were only made against him after he reported racist remarks made by the pupils.
Mr Kafouris submitted several letters from former pupils to the hearing which spoke of his respect for other religions, including Islam.
One letter, from former colleague Selima Chaudhury, described him as ‘professional’and an ‘excellent teacher’.
Mrs Chaudhury said: ‘I never heard Nicholas make any comments about children’s race, colour or religion. On the contrary, he respected and valued all the religions.
‘As a devout Muslim myself, I know very well that Nicholas has never and would never make any adverse remarks to the children or the parents about Islam.’
Mr Kafouris, a Greek Cypriot, taught for 12 years at Bigland Green Primary School in Tower Hamlets, East London.
He claims he was forced to leave his £30,000-a-year job because he would not put up with the ‘racist’ and anti-Semitic’ behaviour of his pupils.
The predominantly Muslim youngsters, some as young as eight, openly praised Islamic extremists in class and described the September 11 terrorists as ‘heroes and martyrs’.
One pupil said: ‘Don’t touch me, you’re a Christian’ when he brushed against him.
Others said: ‘We want to be Islamic bombers when we grow up’, and ‘The Christians and Jews are our enemies – you too because you’re a Christian’.
According to Ofsted ‘almost all’ the school’s 465 pupils are from ethnic minorities and a vast proportion do not speak English as a first language.
Mr Kafouris claims racial discrimination by the school, its headmistress and her assistant head after they failed to take action about the pupils’ comments.
He said there was a change in attitude of the pupils after the atrocities of September 11, 2001.
They told him: ‘We hate the Christians’ and ‘We hate the Jews’, despite his attempts to stop them.
He said he filled out a Racist Incident Reporting Sheet but claimed headmistress Jill Hankey dismissed his concerns.
Kafouris was signed off with stress by his GP at the end of February 2007 after assistant head Margaret Coleman warned him not to challenge the pupils in class about their remarks.
He says the lack of support from the school has made him clinically depressed and unable to work. He was sacked in April last year.
(source: daily mail, foto: Robin Bell)

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