Bullying of Muslim students doubled in two years: CAIR report

The organization drew a link between President’s Islamophobic statements and the uptick in intimidation

Ritu Jha

Bullying Muslims is big in California, the number of students being affected almost doubling in the past two years.

According to a report put together by the California wing of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, a non-profit civil liberties and advocacy organization of Muslims.

According to the report, titled “Unshakable: The Bullying of Muslim Students and the Unwavering Movement to Eradicate It,” the results came up in a 2016-17 survey that examined how Muslim students felt about their school environment, about identifying as Muslim and the extent of anti-Muslim bullying and harassment they experienced.

It said that Muslim students were bullied and discriminated against, including by teachers, administrators and other officials, with incidents increasing from 20 percent in 2014 to 38 percent in 2016. Cyberbullying also went up from 19 percent in 2014 to 26 percent last year.

The report said that while 83 percent of the students felt welcome and respected at school in 2016, now only 69 percent do. Overall, just 61 percent felt comfortable discussing their religion or community in class. In 2014, 76 percent had no reservations about such discussions.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said report that students at the school are made fun of, verbally insulted or abused for being Muslim.

The report is based on findings from a statewide survey of more than 1,000 Muslim students between the ages of 11 and 18. It was conducted by the CAIR-CA offices covering the Greater Los Angeles, Sacramento Valley, San Diego and San Francisco Bay areas.

“There is a large demand for information about the bullying of Muslim students,” Masih Fouladi, Advocacy Manager at CAIR’s Los Angeles chapter told indica.

She added that approximately 25 percent of CAIR’s civil rights work focuses on the bullying of Muslim students.

“It falls within each element of our mission statement to ‘Enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding,’”she said.

CAIR has been collecting data about the bullying of Muslim schools students since 2012.

“There is so much misinformation about Islam and Muslims. If we at CAIR-CA are not proactive in our outreach to schools to ensure they have accurate information and curriculum about Islam, then we are allowing this misinformation to seep into the classroom setting,” Fouladi said.

This report is just way CAIR reaches out to schools, school districts and legislators.

“It’s objective is to highlight the high rate at which Muslim students are bullied, the underlying Islamophobic causes for the bullying and solutions we propose to deal with this problem,” Fouladi said.

Asked what was the most surprising thing they learned while working on the research, Fouladi pointed to President Trump’s Muslim-baiting behavior. She said the legal department sees the direct impact of the President’s Islamophobic rhetoric in 2016 on hate crimes and school bullying. She said it was even more disappointing that the students engaged in bullying also drew a link between their own behavior and that of the President.

“This also explained the large increase in cyberbullying we saw in the report. It looks very similar to the President’s bullying on Twitter,” Fouladi said

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