Gateway students allowed to wear Arab scarves

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Gateway High School today permitted two Muslim students to wear scarves known as kaffiyehs in school a day after they were told they couldn't go to class if they didn't remove the scarves.

Loretta Riggs, parent of one of the students, Mohammad Al-Abbasi, 18, was among those who met this morning with school principal William Short and assistant principal Peter Murphy and several other school officials.

"I think everyone there recognized there's some tensions in the school and also amongst the community. We recognize the need for further education and further dialogue. We were very happy that the school district acknowledged this. They're willing to hold such future dialogues," she said.

School district spokeswoman Cara Zanella said the students involved yesterday were not sent home but instead were told they could not go to class wearing the scarves and to wait in the office.

Ms. Zanella said that concerns had been heightened when three students recently wore T-shirts saying "RIP Israel." The students were told to remove the shirts, which they did. The wearing of the shirts led to a petition from Jewish students, saying they felt threatened. She said the principal then asked Muslim students not to wear the scarves for the time being to try to reduce tensions.

She said there will be future meetings of the Muslim and Jewish students to discuss the issues.



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