Growing In Faith: California Muslim Youth Experiences with Bullying , Harassment & Religious Accommodation in Schools

Full Report: Growing In Faith

 

The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relation’s (CAIR-CA) 2012 Muslim Youth at School Survey was the first statewide survey to examine the experiences of American Muslim youth at school. It targeted youth from across California and received responses from 21 counties. In total, 471 Muslim American students attending public school between the ages of 11 and 18 responded to the survey, which consisted of 10 multiple choice questions and space for comments.

Through the survey, CAIR-CA sought to better understand how comfortable American Muslim students felt attending their schools and participating in the classroom. CAIR-CA also made it a goal to enhance its awareness of the extent to which students were being bullied and their responses.

California’s Muslim students, for the most part, reported a healthy school environment in which they were comfortable participating in discussions about their religious identity, believed that their teachers respected their religion, and felt safe at school.

Most of the respondents came from areas of California with large and robust Muslim populations, such as Orange County and Santa Clara County. This may account for the many responses we received from students who stated that they felt confident and supported in asserting their Muslim identity at school.  While many respondents indicated that they simply internalized anti-Muslim name-calling from peers, such as “Osama Bin Laden” and “terrorist,” many indicated that this did not have a long-lasting effect on them.

As evidenced by the findings in this report, there are still significant issues facing American Muslim youth at school. The majority of school-related cases reported to CAIR involve teacher discrimination. Therefore, it is significant that 18% of the surveyed students answered: ‘Strongly Disagree,’ ‘Disagree,’ or ‘Undecided’ when asked about feeling comfortable participating in classroom discussions and 19% of students answered: ‘Strongly Disagree,’ ‘Disagree,’ or ‘Undecided’ when asked if their teachers respected their religion.

More than 10% of American Muslim students reported physical bullying such as slapping, kicking, or punching. Seventeen percent of the female respondents who wear a hijab, the Islamic headscarf, reported being bullied at least once because of this. Most importantly, 50% of American Muslim students reported being subjected to mean comments and rumors about them because of their religion. Additionally, more than 21% of students reported experiencing some form of cyberbullying.

Students had mixed reactions to reporting incidents to adults. About 63% said that they reported incidents of bullying to a teacher or principal, while only 53% said they reported to their parents. As to whether they thought reporting helped, 35% answered that it ‘Never,’ ‘Rarely,’ or ‘Sometimes’ helped, and only 17% answered that it ‘Often,’ or ‘Very Often’ helped.

With respect to how students reacted to their aggressors when they were bullied, 8% said that they fought back, 21% said that they insulted them back, and 11% said that they reacted by making fun of the aggressor’s religion or race. Sixty-one percent reported that they never fought back, 51% said that they never insulted their aggressor, and 60% reported that they never made fun of the bully’s religion or race.

School bullying is a phenonmenon that affects students from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and American Muslim students are not exempt from being subjected to harassment and discrimination at school. As Islam and Muslims continue to be in the public spotlight, negative representations and assumptions in the public sphere serve as obstacles to cultivating a tolerant, nurturing, and healthy school environment for all students.

Link to pdf of report: http://ca.cair.com/downloads/GrowingInFaith.pdf

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): http://www.cair.com/

California Muslim Community Makes Political History: 28 Muslim Delegates Elected to California Democratic Party

This past weekend, California Muslims made political history when 28 Muslim candidates were elected by Democrats as delegates and alternate delegates to the California Democratic Party (CDP). This constitutes the largest number of Muslims ever elected as delegates in California.

The CDP held statewide elections for delegates to represent each of the state’s 80 assembly districts.
This encouraging achievement was reached with the help of CAIR-CA PAC, an independent political organization. In an effort to promote American Muslim political engagement, CAIR-CA PAC closely worked with candidates and organized voters to support them.

Among the hundreds of other candidates, at least 36 California Muslims ran for delegate positions. Twenty-eight were elected (five as executive board members and two as alternate delegates), and eight lost their races.  This is an incredible step for Muslims to become more involved in the political process and make a difference for the Muslim community and in their districts.

CAIR-CA PAC is proud of every candidate that ran whether they were elected or not, because it takes a lot of effort and commitment to present oneself as a candidate and run in a fairly competitive race.

The California Democratic Party is governed by the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) which has approximately 3000 delegates.  Some delegates are appointed by elected officials, but about one third are elected every odd numbered year through elections divided by assembly district.  Twelve individuals (six women and six men) from each assembly district are elected as delegates to serve a two year term to the DSCC.

An elected delegate is able to vote on candidate endorsements, help shape the platform of the CDP, approve the rules by which the CDP functions, vote on resolutions of concern to various communities, and choose CDP representatives to the Democratic National Party. Delegates are also responsible for attending the annual statewide convention.

Additionally, one representative from every 12 delegates is voted to the executive board.  The executive board (E-Board) has all the duties and powers of the CDP when it is not in session (at the Democratic National Convention). E-Board members are required to attend three quarterly E-Board meetings each year, as well as the statewide convention.

FBI must pay legal fees for California Muslim groups that sued for access to federal files

SANTA ANA, Calif. — The FBI must pay the legal fees of Muslim activist groups that sued the federal agency for access to its files, according to a U.S. District Court ruling filed Thursday.

Judge Cormac Carney made clear that the financial sanction was not based on the merits of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California’s Freedom of Information Act case, but it was to punish a government that chose to lie to its own judicial system.

“The Court must impose monetary sanctions to deter the Government from deceiving the Court again,” Carney wrote. He gave the Islamic Shura Council 14 days to provide an affidavit detailing its costs.
After a nearly five-year court battle, Carney ruled in April that the council could not review additional records of FBI inquiries into its activities, but he berated the government for misleading the court about the existence of the files.

“And the Court rejects the Government’s suggestion that it initially had to deceive the Court to protect national security. The Government could have availed itself of routine court procedures without compromising national security,” Carney wrote.

The Islamic Shura Council is composed of six Muslim-American community organizations and five community leaders.

Muslim American sues FBI over tracking movements

A California Muslim man sued the Obama administration and the FBI on Wednesday for violating his constitutional rights by tracking his movements with a GPS device hidden on his car.
Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old American citizen by birth, studying in Santa Clara, California, was alerted to the tracking device by a mechanic last October when he took his car for an oil change. He was confronted by FBI agents days later after removing it.

The lawsuit accused the FBI and the Justice Department of violating his constitutional rights by conducting searches without a warrant, tracking his movements and chilling his freedom of association and freedom of speech.

CAIR seeks hate crime probe of vandalism at California Muslim candidate’s home

Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA) today called on state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for vandalism of the home of a Muslim woman who is running for elected office.

CAIR said the house of Nadja Adolf, a Newark resident running for a seat on her local city council, was egged on Sunday, October 11. Adolf is a long-time Newark resident and has never had any previous complaints about property vandalism. A picture of her, wearing an Islamic head scarf, or hijab, was published in a local newspaper just days before the incident.

“Because of the circumstances surrounding this incident, we believe it is important that a possible bias motive be investigated,” said Zahra Billoo, programs and outreach director for CAIR-SFBA. “Our community’s religious, political and community leaders need to be vigilant of and address the growing anti-Muslim rhetoric in our society that can lead to such incidents.”