NPR

Bullied For Its Faith, Muslim Family Fights Back Through Education

When Noshaba Afzal's daughter was bullied, she decided she had a choice. Accept it or say: "No, this is not the America we want it to be."
Noshaba Afzal (right) — with daughters (from left) Maimona Afzal Berta, 23, Sana Afzal, 16, and Honna Afzal, 18 — says bullying of Muslims has become a "safety issue." Source: Leila Fadel for NPR

It started with a sign pinned to Sana Afzal's backpack after the election in 2016. "I like Trump, you're fired."

At the 16-year-old's new high school in Gilroy, Calif., just outside San Jose, kids whispered in her Spanish class: "Allahu Akbar" — "God is great" in Arabic — in a derogatory way.

And then there was the English class assignment involving a Fox News opinion piece that linked Islam, her religion as a whole to a horrific stoning in Afghanistan. The article was accompanied by a picture of a young woman in a headscarf — a lot like the one that Sana chooses to wear as a Muslim.

"One guy ... like saw the picture and saw me and was like 'it's the same thing,' " she said.

He was linking her to this terrible act in a country she had never been to and knew little about.

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