October 20, 2010 11:11:41 am
A six-year-old Muslim girl in Australia was handed a 10-day ban from a schoolbus after she pulled down the pants of a boy who repeatedly teased her about her headscarf.
The year one student Iran Ghavami was banned for 10 days for “bullying and harassment of other passengers” by the Buslink transport service in the NT town of Marrakai.
Iran’s parents said the punishment was a little too harsh for a child who is just six-years-old,a local newspaper in the Northern Territory reported.
The burqa ban has become a controversial topic across the Western world,with France leading the charge. Even Shiv Sena’s Bal Thackeray has asked for a burqa ban recently for security reason in India.
The incident occurred on the school bus last Wednesday,when Iran dacked the boy who she said tormented her often about wearing the hijab,and asked her to take it off.
She said the teasing made her “sad and angry at the same time,” and prompted a revenge.
The ban means the little girl would have to stay home for the period as her parents cannot make the 60km round trip to school from their home in Marrakai.
Iran’s parents — her Muslim father Karim Ghavami and her non-Muslim mother Lorraine Gerassimopoulos expressed concern when they saw the letter from the transport service.
“She is only six years old. It is a bit harsh,” Gerassimopoulos said.
“We would have preferred a warning so we could have sat down and talked about this incident but they are stopping her from going to school,” she said.
“She knows next time she needs to tell us (or) the school… She has learnt from her mistake,” Gerassimopoulos said.
The transport services manager,however,defended the ban,saying the company was only following its code of conduct.
Blasch said the ban was reduced to five days as the child was only six-years old.
Senior Department of Education official,Vicki Baylis said the transport service had a right to ban the girl.
“As the Buslink letter advises,there is a Code of Conduct for School Bus Travel and the company’s decision was based on that code,” Baylis said.
Blasch,however,did not say if the seven-year-old boy was also banned in connection with the incident.
“If there were other cases of bullying then they would be dealt with,” he said.
Discrimination against minorities is rampant in Australia and has led to innumerable violence – attacks on Indians there have been very frequent.
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