AUB Professor Attacks Student's Hijab

AUB Professor Attacks Student's Hijab
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Published September 21st, 2017 - 11:46 GMT via

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Students gathered in front of College Hall for a peaceful protest against discrimination (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Students gathered in front of College Hall for a peaceful protest against discrimination (Shutterstock/File Photo)


  • American University of Beirut student Maryan Dajani said Dr. Samir Khalaf told her she could hear better if she took off her headscarf after she asked him to repeat his words.
  • Some faculty members defended the "old-school" professor while students confirmed Dr. Khalaf's hatred for the hijab.
  • Students gathered in front of College Hall for a peaceful protest Thursday morning.
  • The university released a statement supporting its students' freedom of expression.


The American University of Beirut Wednesday responded to a fracas caused by comments allegedly made by a professor to a student wearing a hijab in class earlier this week.

The student, Maryam Dajani, detailed on social media her version of an interaction with sociology professor Dr. Samir Khalaf which took place during a seminar on Sept. 18.

“Yesterday I experienced appalling discriminative and abusive remarks from my instructor, Dr. Samir Khalaf, regarding the scarf I wear around my head, which left me in shock and utter disgust,” she wrote on a private AUB Facebook group.

Dajani said the incident was sparked when she politely asked Khalaf to repeat the last word he had said. Khalaf, she alleges, “looked at me, eyes filled with anger, and shouted at his loudest: ‘You know why you can’t hear me, because you have that STUUPPID [sic] SCARF COVERING YOUR EARS ... IF YOU REMOVED THAT SCARF YOU WOULD’VE BEEN ABLE TO HEAR ME’.”

The reports of the comments have caused a stir on the university campus and divided the students and faculty.

Some familiar with Khalaf leaped to the professor’s defense, saying that he was an “old-school, liberal.”



A source told The Daily Star that Khalaf was not against any religion, “but this is the way he is when he speaks, very aggressive.”

However, students who have previously taken Khalaf’s classes claimed he has previously made numerous racist, homophobic, Islamaphobic and sexist comments in classes. One student alleged that Khalaf used to mention his hatred for the hijab in almost all her classes, even if it didn’t relate to the topic of the class.

Another student claimed that a similar incident happened last semester with two girls who also wore the veil. The student said Khalaf yelled at them, and said he wished he could remove their veil. One dropped out of the class, while the other stayed silent.

AUB released a statement Wednesday saying the university “takes all allegations of harassment and discrimination very seriously, and the administration is [sic] already addressing the incident before it was publicized in a Facebook post on Sept. 18, 2017.”

The statement added that the matter was, and continues to be, handled in coordination with the student involved, in a confidential manner according to the relevant university policies and procedures.

The source told The Daily Star that Khalaf had long planned to retire at the end of this year. A group of students from AUB held a protest Wednesday to voice their outrage over the incident. “A peaceful and inclusive demonstration organized by students took place outside College Hall this morning and we welcome the right of all students to express themselves verbally and otherwise in a peaceful and democratic manner,” AUB said in its statement.


This article has been adapted from its original source.

Copyright © 2017, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.

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