A recent incident in the United States where a school teacher allegedly yanked the head scarf of a second grader is making the rounds. It has again given rise to the discussion on how Islamophobia continues to reign and have a stronghold over the Western society. A phobia which originated from the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, this exaggerated fear and deeply rooted hate and hostility towards Islam and Muslims in particular has been leading for various incidents circling around bias, discrimination as well as the need to exclude Muslim representatives from various facets of social, political and even civic living. Where you may consider the rise of social media has allowed people to have a wider platform to learn and understand diversity, allowing for communication, views and perspectives to flow across in a more fluid way.

As it turns out, it has given the nudge for negative stereotypes to get an even stronger hold now. And what makes this story alarming and even more worrisome than the usual racially profiled attacks are that it occurred in a school.  A place which is supposed to nurture you, provide you education and also makes you feel completely safe and secure. For such a horrendous incident to take place from the hands of the person who is providing you guidelines on how to lead life and make a mark for yourself, has scared the young girl in question.

Her parents have hired an attorney to lead the case. Speaking to the media, her mother mentions the traumatized state the victim is in right now. Cassandra Wyatt said she’s always told her daughter that her hijab is her protection. “Now she’s asked me, ‘Well, if this is my protection, my teacher took this off of my head.’ So how can you explain it to your child? I have to go introduce her to a different world that I’ve been trying to protect her from”, she said.

The case has received huge attention with many protesting over the alleged harassment the victim has faced for wearing a headscarf to school. Under investigation, the teacher’s identity has not been disclosed, however officials have stated that they do not take such incidents in a light tone. Highlighting the need for schools to adopt practices which ensure equity and inclusion, the need to provide anti-bias as well as anti-racism training has become extremely crucial. This will ensure educators are able to provide pupils the needed structure to attain a peaceful frame of mind as they dabble into a multicultural setting.

Where there is the positive impact coming from how the entertainment industry has begun to project diversity and shun the effects of religious discrimination, there is still much more that needs to be done. More so, it arises from getting awareness from why our personal prejudices are creating significant concerns for the society as a whole. Tolerance stems from being vocal over how this hatred continues to prevail. When major campaigns and influential personnel invest their time making noise over this consistent frame of racism, the ripple effects of change will become visible.

By Mehr Jan

Author is an Associate Editor for a leading weekly Sunday Magazine as well as a freelancer for a range of online publications. She pens with passion and feels there isn’t anything better than expressions through words. She aims to highlight all the good amidst the chaos surrounding us. She is currently residing in Islamabad, Pakistan.
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