Islamophobia on the rise

According to many published reports, acts of Islamophobic hatred are on the rise across America in recent months. Among the deeply concerning examples of anti-Islamic hatred and bias are several that have directly affected children and students.

  • In October, a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy Wadea Al-Fayoume was stabbed and murdered by his family’s landlord in Chicago. According to his mother, who was also attacked, the landlord yelled “You Muslims must die!” before attempting to choke and stab her.
  • A teacher in Georgia threatened to beat and behead a seventh-grade Muslim student.
  • In Michigan, a Palestinian Muslim student asked a school counselor if he could get a drink of water. The counselor reportedly denied the request because she does not “negotiate with terrorists.”

This rise in hatred is both a state and national problem. Unchecked, it will lead to further incidences of violence, endangering Muslim students and educators and harming the learning and living environments of all schools and communities where it is found.

Schools must help students deal with the fear from highly publicized news stories involving Islamophobia, such as the shooting of three Palestinian Americans in Vermont over Thanksgiving as well as repeated threats to mosques in our own state. According to a leading civil rights organization, anti-mosque sentiment and intimidating acts in and around these houses of worship are more common in New Jersey than many other states.

Knowing how best to deal with Islamophobic incidents is only part of the solution. The best time to address Islamophobic acts against students and staff is before they happen. Learning more about how to recognize and address evidence of Islamophobia can prevent such incidents from occurring. That is critical because even the best-addressed incident of Islamophobia leaves a lasting mark on the students and staff who experience it.

Below are several resources to help NJEA members counter Islamophobia in their schools and communities.

Resources to address Islamophobia

NJEA Review
“American Muslim students need understanding and support”

National Education Association

“Countering Islamophobia: Resources to challenge anti-Muslim bias and create safer, more welcoming communities.”

“Maligned and Misunderstood: Muslim Students Speak Out”

Education Week

“How Schools Can Support Arab and Muslim Students” (Note: While Education Week is subscription based, your first few articles are free.)

U.S. Department of Education

“Resources for Preventing and Addressing Islamophobia In Schools.”