A substitute teacher in New York City that allegedly ripped a hijab off an 8-year-old girl in the classroom when she refused to take it off has been arrested, police say.
Prosecutors argued in Bronx court Thursday that the 31-year-old teacher, Oghenetega Edah, committed a crime when he yanked the hijab off the Muslim girl, Safa Alzockary, at P.S. 76 in Allerton on May 2.
The girl wears a hijab to school every day, similar to the traditional headscarves worn by many Muslim women in her Bronx neighborhood.
According to the criminal complaint, Safa sat in the teacher's chair and he asked her to get up. He then kicked her foot and hit her hand, and a short time later, in the back of the classroom, he allegedly said, "If you don't behave, I'm going to take your scarf off" and "I want to see your hair," according to the complaint.
Safa told investigators he then pulled off her hijab and scratched her eye in the process. The teacher was arrested on charges of aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a minor.
The Department of Education fired Edah the next day, calling his behavior "completely unacceptable."
Edah pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Thursday. News 4 attempted to reach his attorney several times.
"It's horrible, especially for the child," said Yajairah Negro, a parent at the school. "That's something so spiritual, so special. I think he had no right to touch her in any kind of way."