A Closer Look At Islamophobia In American Schools


Twelve-year-old Abdu Rrahman Mohamed has heard it all.

"Are you part of 9/11 or are you ISIS?"

"Are you a terrorist?"

"Have you ever killed anyone?"

"Are you going to bomb this place?"

"A bunch of racist things," Abdu Rrahman sighed as he spoke to Long Beach's VoiceWaves, a media source in his California hometown.

Abdu Rrahman's experiences aren't isolated, and are emblematic of a larger trend of bullying Muslim students in American schools, according to reports by media outlets, the Department of Justice, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR.

In late 2015, a survey by CAIR's California chapter found that 55 percent of Muslim students in that state had been bullied, the Los Angeles Times reported. That's twice the rate for non-Muslim students, the paper noted, and 20 percent of the kids who responded said they experienced discrimination at the hands of teachers and faculty, not just students.

More than 40 percent of the students polled said that reporting bullying to teachers or school staff didn't make a difference, the survey found.

Some of those incidents make the headlines: In September, there was national outrage after faculty in an Irving, Texas high school called the cops when 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, a member of the school's robotics club, brought in a clock he'd made from scratch. Ahmed was arrested and pulled out of school in cuffs in front of other students.

Many others don't make the headlines.

A 17-year old girl named Nour, who spoke to Mother Jones, told the magazine the bullying and insults have increased since the Paris and San Bernardino attacks of late 2015.

"It's strange for me to think of myself as an activist now," Nour said. "But there is a growing tension I feel at school, after Paris, especially toward two girls from Yemen who wear headscarves over long, black dresses. Students often ask them, 'Why do you wear this? Can you take it off? I want to see your hair!' I want to help them feel safer and more included at school."

The problem is considered pervasive enough for the Department of Justice to become involved. In a December speech to an advocacy group, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the federal government is actively combating anti-Muslim bullying in schools.

“If you are aware of situations where children are involved, please contact the Department of Justice and the Department of Education,” Lynch said, per the Daily Caller. “We can provide guidance, we can have conversations.”

Sources: Mother Jones, Daily Caller, VoiceWaves, LA Times / Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

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