Study shows high number of Muslim students in California being bullied

SAN DIEGO - A new study released Thursday shows a high number of Muslim students in California are victims of bullying.

The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations conducted a survey last year of 500 Muslim students in California schools. The study asked about bullying or inappropriate behavior in schools for students between the ages of 11 and 18.

The study, called "Growing in Faith: California Muslim Youth Experiences with Bullying, Harassment and Religious Accommodation in Schools," outlines how nearly half of all Muslim students were teased, taunted or harassed emotionally or physically in schools.  

"I was bullied when I was in middle school. We were called terrorists, we were called at the time Saddam Hussein," said Hanif Mohebi of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The study also found one in five female students were harassed because they wore hijabs, which are Islamic headscarfs.

"Questions like, 'Are you a terrorist?'" said 16-year-old Salma Hassane, who was interviewed for the study.

Salma, who attends La Jolla High School, said sometimes her classmates and teachers just don't understand.

"'Do you wear the scarf in the shower?' Do you take it off at home?'" Salma said she has been asked.

Salma's father said he was insulted when someone said, "Your cousin was killed," when referring to Osama bin Laden's death.

The survey said those type of comments have made one in five Muslim students uncomfortable to speak during class.

Most disturbing, the reported harassment also came from teachers and administrators.

CAIR said it hopes school administrators and law enforcement would use the first-of-its-kind report as an educational tool for teachers and students.

Salma said she hopes the numbers will decrease, with the study to back them up.

"It's not only us trying to make the effort, but it's also them trying to incorporate us and trying to make us feel more comfortable," said Salma.

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