Muslim Students Feel Increasingly Unsafe in Primary and Secondary Schools

Ayeza Hussain is a 16-year-old Pakistani student from Antoine-Brossard High School in Brossard, Que. Though she finds her student body diverse, it has not stopped her from facing Islamophobic violence in school.

During a lunch period, a white Québecois student approached her and began harassing her. “He threw his lunchbox at me and screamed ‘Allahu Akbar,’” Hussain recalled.

She could not believe the assault was committed against her.

“I was so shocked, my school is very ethnically diverse, there are a lot of different religions and cultures,” Hussain said. “There is even a prayer room. A lot of Muslims go there and we have Muslim teachers at our school.”

Diversity and community were not enough for her to avoid experiencing direct Islamophobia for the first time in her life.

For years, there has been an increase in Islamophobia in schools across Quebec. Research finds the province is growing increasingly hostile towards Muslims, making it harder for people of faith to freely express themselves without the fear of harassment.

Combined with the Coalition Avenir Québec’s anti-religion policies in schools implemented in the name of secularism, Muslim students are scared of being harassed. Students and teachers alike are calling for action to be taken.

In Quebec, Muslims are regarded as one of the most stigmatized religious groups.

Laws such as Bill 21, also known as laïcité or Quebec’s secularism bill, deny Quebec citizens from wearing religious symbols such as the hijab, kippah, the dastar and the cross in academic, government and law enforcement positions, further stigmatizing religious minorities and inhibiting the path to fighting against discrimination.

FULL ARTICLE by Sidra Mughal

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