TDSB canceled a book club event with Marie Henein, saying a book by Nadia Murad, abducted by Islamic State militants, would promote Islamophobia
Two weeks after the Toronto District School Board said students were not allowed to attend a book club event with attorney Marie Henein, they will now be allowed to read her book.
“I’m really glad the students will be able to attend,” Lee said Thursday. “The book club has always been about students, and I know all students will love it.”
Lee said she hopes to hold another event with Henein in January where students can attend from across the country and learn about the law from Canadian female lawyers. The school board said it would be necessary to discuss the event with Lee, but students would likely be allowed to attend.
“It’s going to be a phenomenal event,” Lee said.
The National Post contacted the school boards and trustees in the London and Owen Sound areas for comment on the decision to allow students there to attend last week’s Henein lecture; they did not respond before press time.
Lee has run the book club A Room of Your Own for about four years, a club that offers books to teenage girls, often from lower-income families, and then holds events about the books, usually with the teacher who runs the local club.
“They’re just talking about the book, and they have a good old time talking about it,” Lee said. “I usually choose books that have wonderful female protagonists with different abilities and from all different backgrounds.”
The issue of Henein’s book caused controversy two weeks ago when The Globe and Mail reported that Lee was told students could not read the book because she had defended CBC star Jian Ghomeshi against allegations of sexual assault in 2016.
“They directly said ‘no’ to me because (Henein) defended Jian Ghomeshi and how to explain it to little girls,” Lee told The Globe.
Lee says she’s never had the school board oppose a book – or a book club event – before.
However, the board said that was not the reason why the students could not attend the event.
“An opinion that did not reflect the position of the Toronto District School Board was shared with the organizer of a book club before staff had the opportunity to read the planned books – something that is routinely done before being given to students,” the school said. said the board.
Lee said such an earlier review has not happened before, as far as she knows.
“I’ve been running book clubs with TDSB, just like with their students, for four years, and this is the first time this has ever happened,” Lee said. “They tend to read the books while the girls while the students read them.”
In February, book club students get the chance to hear from Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi abducted by Islamic State militants in 2014. She is the author of a memoir, The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against Islamic State, and the founder of Nadia’s initiative, which advocates for survivors of sexual violence, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.
Lee said she was initially told by the Toronto District School Board that Murad’s book could be seen as promoting Islamophobia.
The event will continue, Lee said. She hopes for a national event and says she would love for Parliament’s library to host it – but Murad’s book is still under consideration by the TDSB.
“(Murad’s) book is still being read and we hope to approve soon,” Bird wrote.
The Post contacted Nadia’s Initiative and sought an interview with Murad, but did not respond before the deadline.