A nursery in Lebanon has come under fire for rejecting a Sudanese student due to racist complaints it received from the parents of other students.
Located in Zouk Mikael, the nursery first agreed to enroll Rizk Kijjo, aged 1 year and 9 months, but later backtracked on its decision after parents threatened to remove their children if "a black kid" got admitted, according to The Daily Star.
The case has stirred controversy among Lebanese, prompting the intervention of the country's Health Ministry.
"The garderie considered its own interest and didn’t want to lose their profits from the other kids"
Speaking to The Daily Star, Rizk's father, Fawzi Louis Kijjo, a registered Sudanese refugee and long-term Lebanon resident, said he had reached an agreement with the nursery to enroll his son for $150. The name of the nursery has not been revealed.
However, after the toddler's first day at the nursery, the latter received complaints from the parents of other students.
"A woman noticed my kid was black and told the staff, 'If you enroll him at the garderie [nursery], I will pull my son out and let all the other mothers here take their kids out with mine'," Kijjo said.
The nursery subsequently decided to reject Rizk since, according to Kijjo, the administration "didn't want to lose their profits from the other kids."
Authorities take action
After media outlets reported the incident, the Ministry of Health released a statement condemning the nursery's decision and referring to it as "racial discrimination," according to Annahar.
The ministry also issued a written warning against the nursery and announced plans to raise awareness among the parents who complained against Rizk's admission.
The ministry added that the nursery has reached out to Kijjo, but the latter has decided to enroll his son elsewhere.
Lebanon is considered among the most racist countries in the world
According to a 2016 study by finance website Insider Monkey, Lebanon was considered the second most racist country in the world at the time, after India.
The survey found that 36.3 percent of Lebanese do not want neighbors from another race and 64.3 percent have witnessed racist behavior.
The country notably demonstrates discrimination against foreign domestic workers, who are bound by a controversial kafala system, "a sponsorship structure which links a valid immigration status to one single employer."