CAIR-Philadelphia to Represent Black Muslim 6th Grader Allegedly Humiliated by Teacher, Calls on District to ‘Acknowledge Harm and Take Responsibility’

(PHILADELPHIA, PA, 12/22/21) – The Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia) today called on Darby Township School at Southeast Delco School District to acknowledge alleged harm, fully investigate and rectify any missteps that led to a 6th grade Black Muslim student at Darby Township School reportedly to be humiliated and forced to kneel by his homeroom/math teacher. 

CAIR-Philadelphia also announced that it has agreed to provide legal representation for the student who was allegedly dehumanized by his teacher.

The incident took place on Wednesday, Dec. 15, and led to widespread social media outrage and concerns about the teacher at schools he has worked at in the past.  

In a statement, CAIR-Philadelphia Civil Rights Attorney Timothy Welbeck, Esq., said:  

“These disturbing allegations are reprehensible. For a teacher to forcibly confiscate a student’s phone and then make him kneel and beg in front of the class is intolerable.

“The district should immediately suspend the teacher pending a full and transparent investigation and offer a public apology as it works with our office and other advocates seeking accountability.”

Welbeck added that a survey conducted by CAIR’s California chapters in 2018-2019, revealed that nearly 1 in 3 Muslim students do not feel safe, welcomed, and respected at school, with almost a third of students reporting that school staff made offensive comments about Islam or Muslims at school.  

READ: CAIR-CA Bullying Report – 2019  

CAIR also offers a booklet, called “An Educator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” designed to help school officials provide a positive learning environment for Muslim students.  

SEE: An Educator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices (PDF)  

Dr. Ahmet Tekelioglu, CAIR-Philadelphia’s Education and Outreach Director, said: “When a teacher bullies and humiliates a student, we should see a swift, decisive response and outrage from the school administration. Southeast Delco School District missed that opportunity and has lost the confidence of the family and community.”  

CAIR-Philadelphia will be working with local community leaders and other partners in its advocacy on behalf of Holmes and her son.    

BACKGROUNDER ON THE CASE:    

On Dec. 15, 2021, a 6th grade teacher allegedly confiscated his student phone, after the student pointed it to another student. The student with the phone apologized for his action, the other student accepted this apology, but the teacher proceeded to require the Muslim student to beg and kneel, noting he needed to see tears.  

Another student challenged this behavior but was reportedly scolded by the teacher. In an initial meeting with community advocates, the school district officials were unempathetic.

A press conference organized by local racial and educational equity groups to support the Muslim student’s mother took place at Darby Township School on Wednesday, Dec, 22, 2021, during which the student’s family members, friends, and local leaders spoke.

Joining Taliyah Holmes, the mother of the Black Muslim 6th Grader, at the press conference were Taleah Taylor and Jermaine Coleman of City of Dreams Coalition and Nidir Muhammad from Black Lives Matter Greater New York/ Black Opportunities.


CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

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CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Civil Rights Attorney Timothy N. Welbeck, Esq., 404-642-0014 (mobile), twelbeck@cair.com; CAIR-Philadelphia Education and Outreach Director Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu, PhD; 617-401-5397 (mobile), atekelioglu@cair.com.