- The Washington Times - Monday, November 1, 2021

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is reporting a new high in the bullying of Muslim children in California public, charter and non-Islamic private schools.

In a statewide survey of 708 Muslim students aged 11 to 18 years old, 55% reported “feeling unsafe, unwelcome or uncomfortable at school because of their Muslim identity,” the highest level in five such reports since the biennial study began in 2013, CAIR-CA reported.

Hussam Ayloush, head of the civil rights group’s California chapter, told The Washington Times that the results confirm American Muslims have “faced growing challenges due to Islamophobia” in popular culture and public hate crimes during the past 20 years since 9/11.

“This form of hatred and harassment does not occur in a vacuum and is certainly not restricted to California,” Mr. Ayloush said.

Students surveyed said alleged verbal harassment included phrases like, “Go back to your country.”

The study also found that 30.12% of girls who wear a hijab reported that someone tugged, pulled or offensively touched it at school.

Overall, 47.1% of California Muslim students said they experienced actual bullying, more than twice the national average of 20% of all U.S. students.

But while 47% of respondents reported anti-Muslim bullying before the pandemic, the study reported that only 26% said they experienced it post-pandemic, “a result of the decrease of in-person interactions amongst students.”

“School districts’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic proves that these systems are capable of changing their entire educational model to be more responsive to the well-being of their students,” said Amr Shabaik, CAIR-Los Angeles Civil Rights Managing Attorney and the author of the report.

The study urges California school leaders to conduct assessments of anti-Muslim bullying, implement strong anti-bullying policies and “ensure that educators are cognizant of their own biases and do not marginalize Muslim students.”

It also states that standardized curriculum “must be anti-racist and inclusive” in the state’s schools.

Conducted on paper and through an online link between January and August 2021, the survey asked Muslim students in California to share their “experiences with bullying and Islamophobia” during the period from August 2018 to August 2021.

The four CAIR-CA offices covering Greater Los Angeles, Sacramento Valley/Central California, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area administered the survey. 

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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