The largest school board in Canada has reportedly banned students from attending a book club event with Nadia Murad, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who miraculously survived being kidnapped by the Islamic State as a teenager and forced into sex slavery.
What are the details?
Murad was slated to participate in a book club event with students from the Toronto District School Board in February 2022 upon the release of her new book, "The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State," which chronicles her story of being sold into sex slavery at age 14 by Islamic terrorists.
However, Helen Fisher, the superintendent at the Toronto District School Board, said students would not be allowed to attend the event, citing concerns that Murad's book would offend students and "foster Islamophobia," according to The Telegraph.
In response, Tanya Lee, who organizes the book club, emailed Fisher information about ISIS.
"This is what Islamic State means," Lee wrote Fisher. "It is a terrorist organisation. It has nothing to do with ordinary Muslims. The TDSB should be aware of the difference."
According to the Telegraph, Fisher responded to Lee's email by sending her a copy of the school board's "policy on selecting equitable, culturally relevant and responsive reading materials."
Lee told The Telegraph:
The book club event for 'A Room Of Your Own Book Club' with Nadia Murad will go ahead across Canada in February. The TDSB has not committed to letting their students attend. This is unfortunate for all involved. A great loss to the students, community, and educators at the TDSB.
The school board withdrawing their support means that they are not putting their students first— only their administration. Nadia Murad is a Nobel Peace Prize winning author and Human Rights Activist. We have so much to learn from her about the Triumph of The Human Spirit and the Will and The Ability to help others overcome tragedy. Nadia and her activism is an example to us all in all societies around the world.
What did the school district say?
The decision caused such an uproar in the community that the TDSB released a statement clarifying Fisher's opinion of Murad's book does not represent the district.
The statement, in addition to including an apology to Murad, said, "An opinion that did not reflect the position of the Toronto District School Board was shared with the organiser of the book club prior to staff having an opportunity to read the books — something that is routinely done before giving them to students."
"Staff are currently reading both books and anticipate being able to add them to the list of titles used in the corresponding course(s)," the statement added.