Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kurdish student shoots dead his American teacher in Sulaimaniyah

ERBIL, March 1 – A high school student in Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan Region's second largest city, has shot dead his American teacher before putting a bullet in his own head.

Authorities say the motives for the killing of the teacher remains unknown while investigations are still ongoing to disclose the details of the incident.

Spokesman for Sulaimaniyah police Sarkawt Ahmed said: "We've launched an investigation into the incident where a student killed his teacher at Sulaimaniyah's Medya School."

The 18-year-old Bayar Sarwar had hidden a gun in his bag when he went to his school – a private school where the language of instruction is English and the majority of the teachers are Americans - this morning. According to reports, He walked up to his teacher, Jeremiah Small, to speak to him for while and then draw his gun to shoot the teacher four times. Then he shot himself.

The teacher died on the spot. But the student died as few hours later in hospital.

There were various stories on facebook about what really happened on the ground. One person identifying himself as Ali Muzhda and one of Sarwar's schoolmates said there were heated debates over the past two weeks in the school between the teacher and the students about Islam. 

Ali Muzhda said the teacher was telling the students that Islam is the religion of hate and was associated with terrorism which angered Bayar Sarwar. The class had polarized on pro and against as well, according to Ali Muzhda.

Sulaimaniyah mayor Zana Mohammed told AKnews that there was "an issue between the student and his teacher" but did not clarify what type of issue.

"The motive for killing the teacher is still under investigation. We can't comment on that until the results are out,"

I personally think that whatever happened that day it was a tragedy because two lives were lost. Whatever the student's motivation, be it political, religious, or simply a quarrel, I think the incident hurt the image of Kurdistan as a welcoming, hospitable, and open to foreigners culture. I am sorry that this had to happen.

read more about this issue in my other post where Bayar's father, in an interview with Rudaw, sheds light on his son's motivation: Issues related with religion pushed Kurdish student to shoot his American teacher, says father of the student

I grabbed this photo I grabbed from a facebook page. Bayar, according to reports  threatened his school friends, too.(I was told by an anonymous reader, who was apparently one of Mr Bayar Sarwar's friends, that this photo was taken during a dress up party and it is not in fact of Mr Bayar)

 In this photo, the American teacher Jeremiah Small appears in Kurdish traditional clothes: second on the right

This is a screenshot of the comments of Ali Muzhda on facebook