Islamophobia in American Public Schools


Islamophobia in American Public Schools

A CAIR report on Muslim bullying details that nearly 50% of Muslims in California schools are being bullied by students, teachers, and other school personnel, and more than 55% of Muslim students feel unsafe as at school. The unfortunate reality is that administrators are not taking these matters seriously like in Ekran’s case, and not reacting properly or implementing policies that will help mitigate some of these issues that affect both Muslim students and students of other faith backgrounds.

Most times, the Muslim community is only thinking of how Islamophobic tropes of otherization, not belonging in the U.S., Muslim women being called “towel heads,” boys being called Taliban, and other claims that label both males and females as terrorists impact the Muslim psyche – but bullying is not the only impact. Dr. Sawsan Jabr’s research suggests that as a result of Arab students experience in schools, they are having to adopt a dual identity of choosing to be Muslim or American at school. These are some of the consequences of Islamophobia on Muslim students, but we are often not asking the question of how Islamophobia impacts students of other faiths, too. I do not mean the obvious impact of Islamophobia of prejudice and bullying against Muslim students – I mean that if non-Muslim students never learn anything about the facts about Islam, the Islamophobia industry, and never hear Muslim voices, then what kind of society are we systematically creating?

It’s important to understand that schools often replicate what is happening in society.  Muslims are often dehumanized, blamed, and dragged into stories that have no basis in Islam itself- the case that comes to mind is the Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase who made an argument for not masking by attacking Islam and Muslims and claiming that when people mask, it’s similar to wearing the niqab and that will “break their will and individuality”. These outrageous and false claims make me further question what people are learning in schools and what the purpose of school is.


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