James O'Brien is Leading Britain's Conversation.
15 November 2016, 15:26
The Teaching Assistant Sacked For September 11th Objections
Suriyah Bi, the teaching assistant sacked for objecting to 9/11 footage, tells Shelagh Fogarty why she's fighting so hard for an apology.
Teaching assistant Suriyah Bi was sacked after objecting to children being shown graphic footage from the September 11th attacks and tells Shelagh Fogarty why she's rejected an offer of compensation.
Bi worked at the Heartlands Academy in Birmingham and says she thought it was inappropriate for a class of 11- and 12-year-old special needs children to see footage of 9/11.
She voiced her concerns to her line manager and within 40 minutes was told she was no longer a suitable candidate to work at the school - because of the video complaints.
Heartlands Academy offered her £11,000 in compensation, 15 months after the dismissal. But Suriyah told Shelagh she wanted an apology and would take the case to an employment tribunal if that was what was required.
"The suggestion is you objected to that footage, not because you were concerned about its impact on children but because you wanted to protect the reputation of Islam, up to and including Islamist terrorists," said Shelagh.
"That's what is being suggested," agreed Bi, "And it's absurd.
"It's as absurd that saying anyone who worked in a bank...is responsible for the 2008 financial crash. Thats how absurd it is.
"I'm looking for them to admit liability and to apologise. No amount of money can put right the agonising and harrowing experience I've had over the last 15 months."
But Suriyah insisted she was still a proud British Muslim: "I believe in the Prime Minister's values.
"I'm absolutely eager and I will not let this hinder me in becoming a British citizen and someone who contributes to society."