SHAFAQNA – Muslim students might just be facing the hardest challenge of their lives, Islamophobia in schools. A prime example is Bayan Zehlif, the California student who was identified with the name “Isis Philips,” instead of her real name in the yearbook last week.
She received her senior high school yearbook only to find that she had been labelled as one of the most reprehensible groups in the world, ISIS.
“The school reached out to me and had the audacity to say that this was a typo. I beg to differ, let’s be real,” Zehlif said.
She explained at the Council on American Islamic Relations press conference that she had heard other anti-Muslim comments made at the school in the past to make her think it was not a mistake.
One student had posted on Twitter that “all Muslims are terrorists.” On the anniversary of 9/11, one of Zehlif’s teachers said that “the people who caused 9/11 shouldn’t be here today.”
However, Zehlif explains that she received support from fellow classmates, but still feels targeted, adding, “Seeing my schoolmates hate me hurts a lot.”
Muslim students bullied for their faith has become a norm in America. In 2015, after surveying over 600 Muslim students, California’s CAIR chapter found that 55 percent had been bullied for being Muslim, which is twice the number of students who report being bullied on a national basis, and 20 percent had experienced discrimination by a school staff member.
“This disparity is a reflection of how Islamophobic rhetoric by certain media and public figures has become normalized in our society,” Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR’s Los Angeles Office, explained in an interview with The Daily Beast.
Muslim students facing Islamophobia in schools has become so severe that local Muslim organizations are holding a “combatting anti-Muslim bigotry” youth conference in Philadelphia on Saturday.