Nearly half of the students interviewed in the state of California reported being bullied for being Muslim, a new report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations found.
Interviews with 700 Muslim students in schools in the state of California found high levels of bullying, harassment, and discrimination by peers and adults, including teachers.
A report conducted in 2021 by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) found that nearly half of the students, 47.1 percent, reported being bullied for being Muslim.
That is more than twice the reported national average of 20 percent.
“Muslim students of all ages have been ostracised and mistreated in the past because of their faith and perceived, yet clearly false, association with 9/11 and other acts of terrorism,” said Amr Shabaik, the civil rights managing attorney for CAIR-LA.
“Often, such events manifest in the form of bullying by other students, lack of preventative and reporting measures by school officials, and insufficient training for educators as to how to mediate or de-escalate religious, racial and ethnically-charged bullying,” Shabaik said.
More than half of respondents, 55.73 percent, reported feeling unsafe, unwelcome, or uncomfortable at school due to their Muslim identity.
This is the highest reported level since CAIR-California began doing the survey in 2013.
“I was constantly called Osama bin Laden by the same guy who would tell me that I looked Bomb with a big emphasis on the word bomb,” said an 18-year-old female student from Brentwood.
Harassment over headscarves
The report goes on to document that nearly one in three students, 30.12 percent, who wear a hijab or headscarf reported that it was tugged at, pulled, or offensively touched.
“People have verbally abused me for being Muslim,” a young woman, 18, from Redwood City told the survey. “(They) mocked me and Islam and I have had my hijab pulled off by a classmate for no reason.”
The report also found approximately one-third of students experienced or witnessed some form of cyberbullying.
One of the more disturbing findings indicates that nearly one in four respondents, 23.5 percent, reported that a teacher, administrator, or other adult at their school made offensive comments about Islam or Muslims.
“A 16-year-old female public school student from Orange County reported that her ‘teacher attacked [her] in front of [her] class’,” said Shabaik. “Saying things like ‘terrorist’ and ‘you don’t belong here’.”