February 15 2017, as I walked to my 5th period class, I was behind a group of individuals, who usually attempt to tease or harass me, but today was different. As I walked I heard a fairly loud voice go “Hey suicide bomber!”, shocked I continued walking and nearly made it to the door without any confrontation. However I heard a sarcastic chanting of the words “ Allah Hu Akbar” followed by more racial remarks. I rushed to turn around and confront the individual, as I did a series of pushes ensued before it was split up by an administrator. I walk into the office of the administrator and began explaining what had happened, also mentioning that this was not the first instance of religious discrimination I had endured within the walls of their school, but certainly a notable one. One thing that has resonated wth me is, what if I and a group of fellow Muslims were to yell the words “Suicide bomber” and “Allahuakbar” in a public school? One word- prosecution.
The year before during a Model United Nations session, my cousin and I had chose to represent Pakistan, it being our family’s culture and heritage. As the session proceeded we were abruptly halted by a loud voice coming from behind us “Why are these two even in here? They’re the terrorists!”, the room silenced in shock; the teacher had called us terrorists in front of an entire Model United Nations session. After the situation subsided, I thought it would certainly be the last incident of that severity I would have to endure before I graduated, I was wrong.
In a school with a 0.5% (8/1344) Muslim population (yes half a percent), why is there nothing being done to ensure minorities like these their safety and security when they walk into the jurisdiction of Woodrow Wilson High School? It seems to me that religious harassment is a recurring problem at WWHS, but why have there been no initiatives to secure us minorities during a time of extreme racial tension? The problem persists, after every negative incident in the name of Islam circulates in the media, we don’t go the following day in the actual fear of a hateful response. After every religious harassment, we miss school, again in fear of an unsolicited retaliation.
And you may ask what did I get? Two days suspension (might I add my record was clean before that day), for standing up for my religion to a group of kids who found it funny to collectively disrespect it. The others, well none would admit to it besides one, so it was not written off as religious harassment, but simply “disrespectful conduct”. We received the same punishment: suspension.
(Later did I find out that one of the persons handling my case had direct ties to these students. The three offenders were called in and questioned, as well as two of their friends who were not present during the incident. A total of five against me, I inquired if said administrator had called in the witness I named, I was ignored and it was disregarded. I inquired with my witness the following day; he was never called in for questioning (he is also a fellow Muslim). The administrator stated only one confessed and the others had denied what each other had done, of course if you only call in the offenders’ close group of friends they will all support what one other says. A strong conflict of interest if you were to ask me.)