Muslim Students Report Bullying After Terrorist Attacks

| by Sarah Zimmerman
A Muslim student's 2016 yearbook photo. She was incorrectly listed as "Isis Phillips." A Muslim student's 2016 yearbook photo. She was incorrectly listed as "Isis Phillips."

With recent terror attacks both in the U.S. and abroad, anti-Muslim sentiment and rhetoric continues to grow. Islamophobia can affect Muslims anywhere, and even high school students are reportedly experiencing prejudice because of their religion. Countless stories of harassment and abuse from Muslim students' fellow classmates and teachers have garnered national attention.

In May, for example, Bayan Zehlif, a junior at Los Osos High School in California, posted her yearbook photo on Twitter, The Daily Beast reported. Zehlif, a hijab-wearing Muslim American, was appalled to see that it wasn't her name under her photo, but the name "Isis Phillips."

According to The Daily Beast, this was not the only form of prejudice Zehlif faced throughout the 2015-2016 school year. In a press conference organized by the California chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Zehlif mentioned that a fellow student reportedly tweeted "all Muslims are terrorists." One of her teachers also allegedly said on the anniversary of 9/11 that "the people who caused 9/11 shouldn’t be here today."

Zehlif isn't the only Muslim student facing prejudice in the U.S. As reported by the Washington Post, a local survey by the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, shows that about one-third of Muslim students between grades three to 12 in Montgomery County, Maryland, have experienced some form of bullying. The Daily Beast reports that a local California study reflects that in 2015, 55 percent of Muslim students in the area faced prejudice -- that's two times the national average of high school bullying.

Muslim students are reportedly now especially afraid they will face increased backlash because of the recent Orlando, Florida, terror attack, in which 49 people were shot and killed at a local nightclub on June 12. The shooter was an Afghan-American who reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS during the incident. 

On June 13, a day after the shooting, a student at Walter Johnson High School in Maryland was so afraid of possible bullying that she did not want to attend school, according to The Washington Post.

Hafsa Shahzad, a 15-year-old sophomore at another Maryland high school told The Washington Post that the Orlando shooting is a huge setback for Islam, especially since the recent death of Muhammad Ali cast the religion in a positive light.

"I'm scared Islamophobia will be on the rise again," she said.

Sources: The Washington Post, The Daily Beast / Photo Credit: Bayan Zehlif/Twitter

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