Thursday, June 9, 2016

Maligned and Misunderstood: Muslim Students Speak Out

Maligned and Misunderstood: Muslim Students Speak Out:

Maligned and Misunderstood: Muslim Students Speak Out

muslim students

Seventeen-year-old Entsar Mohamed is proud to be Muslim, but she admits it isn’t easy.
“Being a Muslim in America today is getting harder and I am worried that it will get worse,” says the senior at Mission High School in San Francisco, Calif. “Because of ISIS, Muslims are seen as bad and violent people.”
Anti-Islamic rhetoric has reached a fever pitch in America, spouting not only from presidential candidates and governors, but even from school board members, like one in Philadelphia who posted that she is “officially against Muslims” and “We don’t want them in America” on her Facebook page.
In New York, Chicago, and in Mohamed’s hometown of San Francisco, city bus ads paid for by millionaire Pamela Geller showed pictures of ISIS atrocities and proclaimed, “It’s not Islamophobia. It’s Islamorealism.”
For Muslims who ride city buses—including hundreds of school kids—the message was loud and clear: “Muslims are terrorists and must be feared.”
“It’s scary, unfair, and weird how we are in the year 2016 and people are allowed to be so openly biased and hateful,” says Mohamed Omar, 18, a senior at San Francisco’s Raul Wallenberg High School. “People look at us in a damning way, they have this image of us that’s hard to change, and it bothers me that Pamela Geller can have freedom of speech, but where is my freedom of religion?”

Islamophobia at School

Not surprisingly, Islamophobia from the larger society filters down into our schools. More than half of California’s Muslim students have experienced religion-based bullying, a rate double that of their non-Muslim peers nationally, according to a study of the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Fakhra Shah, a teacher at Mission High School, knows first-hand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of anti-Muslim slurs and stereotyping. A Muslim who grew up in the Bay Area, she’s experienced them her whole life. One of her goals as an educator is to prevent bullying by teaching tolerance, which she does by demonstrating it, accepting perspectives, and creating a warm environment where all students feel loved and accepted.
“Growing up, I remember having to constantly start conversations with people about how ‘not all Muslims are…’ That’s a pretty terrible way to get to know people or make friends,” she says. “I still remember having to defend myself to my seventh-grade Maligned and Misunderstood: Muslim Students Speak Out:


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