Hate Crime Charges For Teacher Who Ripped Hijab Off 8-Year-Old Girl

'If you don’t behave, I’m going to take your scarf off,' a substitute teacher allegedly told a Muslim second-grader in New York

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May 26, 2017 at 12:32 PM ET

A former New York substitute teacher faces hate crime charges after he allegedly yanked the hijab off the head of an 8-year-old Muslim girl in his second-grade class, law enforcement officials said.

Oghenetega Edah, 31, surrendered to authorities this week following the May 2 incident at an elementary school in The Bronx, New York, that garnered international headlines. Police said Edah allegedly ordered the 8-year-old at P.S. 76 to remove her religious headscarf as punishment for sitting in his chair, the New York Daily News reported.

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“If you don’t behave, I’m going to take your scarf off,” Edah told the child, according to court papers filed in Bronx Criminal Court on Thursday.

The young girl, who Vocativ is not naming, then told her teacher she was not allowed to remove her hijab because her Muslim faith prevented her from doing so, and that other people weren’t allowed to see her hair. But Edah paid no regard to his pupil’s pleas, prosecutors said.

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“I want to see your hair,” he allegedly said before ripping the headscarf off the student.

The city’s Department of Education fired Edah the next day after learning of the girl’s accusations. Prosecutors are now seeking to charged Edah with endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated harassment, which is considered a hate crime.