TEL AVIV – A Saudi teacher who was filmed physically abusing a student has been suspended, winning both sympathy and condemnation on Arabic social media.
In the video that went viral the teacher is seen addressing his class at Jeddah’s Alfaysaliya school for gifted children. A student named Hassan then asks a question, and the teacher becomes angry and starts slapping him on his head and pushing him into a corner.
The footage shot by one of the students on his mobile phone sparked wide outrage and shock.
The teacher later apologized to the student in front of his classmates and kissed his head to express his regret. The pupil apparently accepted the apologies and kissed his teacher on the head, in the traditional expression of respect from the young towards the old.
An Education Ministry spokesperson in Jeddah said they “wholly condemn the teacher’s behavior,” and that the teacher has been suspended until the completion of the investigations into the case.
Most of the comments to the video – seen by more than 22,000 YouTube visitors – sympathized with the teacher, blaming the poor behavior of today’s young people.
Others said Education Ministry regulations are to blame. As one talkback put it: “In the past everybody was on the teachers’ side, and now they only care about the students and protecting their rights.”
“He must be a very impolite student,” wrote another viewer. “The teacher should educate him.” A third wrote: “You parents have failed in educating your kids, so let the teachers educate them.”Others said the incident amounted to “nothing…since there were no lashes.”
Defending the student, one commentator posited that “the teacher had no right to hit him. He could have just thrown him out of class.”
Another wrote, “If the kid was mine, I would have killed the teacher.”
A former Education Ministry official told Al Arabiya that “violence only makes children more aggressive and less amenable.” He added that “a teacher should know the art of dealing with rowdy children, and cannot respond to their provocation in this way.”
According to Al Arabiya, the affair is still being hotly debated on social media in the kingdom.