Too cool for school or too Islamic for school?

by Roro on October 28, 2014 - 4:36pm

Too cool for school or too Islamic for school?


            The article “Daily torment of racism in the classroom”, by Divya Talwar published on May 22nd 2002, demonstrates the harsh struggles that a young student, Khadeja Fahat, faces due to racist Islamaphobia abuse at school. Talwar seems to especially focus on the personal experiences of one specific student, who explains all the tragic stories that happen to her in the classroom. Khadeja Fahat is a beautiful young student, who dreads going to school everyday because she is constantly being bullied for her “race” and is always being faced with racial stereotypes. This experience has shown people that racism can occur everywhere we go, even in a classroom, which is supposed to feel safe and comforting. Also, Khadeja Fahat reveals how this sufferance has impacted her both mentally and physically. Therefore, racism can hurt people in ways where they can feel unworthy, hopeless, have low self-esteem and possibly stop eating. In addition, most victims of racism often do not report it to anyone, which in fact is a huge issue.  Khadeja Fahat has been bullied and feared by all of her peers due to her Islamic culture, which displays how racism is socially constructed and should have an end to it.


Talwar, Divya. (2002, May 22.). Daily torment of racism in the classroom. BBC News Education and Family. October 24, 2014 retrieved from:


            In my opinion, this article has touched my heart deeply because innocent children are being constantly hurt by racism, which affects them in so many ways. Children are supposed to be focused on their homework and having fun, not focused on their skin color or how they are not proud of who they are.  Many students suffer from racism and often stay silent about it. Like I have learnt in class and read in the coursepack “Racist beliefs and practices, although widespread and persistent, are frequently invisible to everyone but those who suffer from them” (p.45-50). I think this quote perfectly demonstrates what Talwar is trying to emphasize in the article because she gives people the insight of an innocent girl’s life, where the girl is the only one who knows the pain and anguish she is feeling from racism, yet the suffrage is hidden the from everyone else.  Also, racism is something that is created by society, and as seen in this article, continues to be constructed by young children.  Young peers in Khadeja Fahat’s classroom would day things like “look at that girl she has a bomb in her bag” and call her things like a terrorist and Taleban. I think that this is a perception that young kids develop from things the see in media and most of all, from their family. Family plays a big role a child’s life and I think that family has the biggest influence on a kid. Therefore, these bullies in Khadeja’s classroom must have picked up these hurtful comments from their siblings or parents. Talwar mentions how the fear towards Muslim students is growing and that this issue needs to stop. Also, Talwar gives ways that this Islamaphobia can be prevented, such as informing students in the classroom what racism is and how to fight against it.

            The strength of this article is the way Talwar gives an in-depth story about someone who actually has experienced racism on a daily basis. The strength is the numerous examples that the victim provides such as the types of abuse she faced, which were physical and verbal bullying. The weakness of the article is that after the victim speaks about her whole experience, the author does not provide much opinions of her own and it is mostly put in the perspective of the child.

            I totally agree that there has been an incline in this sort of fear towards Muslims after the 9/11. I also agree with the author when she mentions that students like Khadeja are not alone in the world, and that she is not the only one suffering. I think that this global issue is something that should not be ignored and should be spoken about in every family, between friends and in classrooms. If it is openly spoken about, then people are able to pick up things like what is the main reason why racist ideologies form and how to fix it. 


I was intrigued by the way you formulated your title and I totally agree with your position. I always found it funny how some people are so quick to say that racism doesn't exist in today's society based on their lack of experience with it. Their ignorance is astonishing, refusing to see how young kids like the one mentioned in the article are treated unfairly based on stereotypes that the other kids probably learned from their parents. 9/11 was definitely a factor that led to the alienation of muslims in general, even though a very small minority are actually extremists in the ocean of over one billion followers. It is very sad how all of this plays out, and I do wonder whether or not racism in general is simply based on fear of the unknown, on someone's lack of knowledge of another culture.

I read your article because the title was intriguing. As I went further into the reading I couldn’t believe that kids could say things like “look at that girl she has a bomb in her bag.” I agree with you when you said that family plays a big role in a child’s life, but I also believe that the teacher should do something about the way the classmates of Khadeja treat her. It is part of their responsibilities as teachers to teach the students that they cannot say things like that and explain why. The teachers need to explain and teach about racism because some parents don’t know how or believe that it is not important. In conclusion I really liked your post, as you said Khadeja isn’t the only one suffering from racism I read an article about a young boy that was bullied in elementary school because he was the only black child in the town. Here’s the link

I choose to respond to your article because of the title, which made me believe your article was about racism in school, like mine was and I wanted to compare both article. Reading your summary I found that your article was more about personal experience of racism and it made me what to comment on it since mine was more about statistics. There are many things I agree with in your response to the article. The first one is that school is an educational institution where all children should be treated equally as they are there to learn, and not be judge or mistreated for their skin colour, ethnicity, or religious since none of those have anything to do with learning. Like in my own article, black children with disabilities where not offered the same help, like special programs, as white student because they were black. A also agree when you state that racism is very hurtful to those who suffer from it and is something that follows them throughout their lives. Some other aspect of your response I only partly agree with, or think they aren't complete. Firstly, I don't think racism is constructed by young children, to me it seem like children just do what they think is right and normal and don't even realize what they say is wrong and racist acts. They simply implement what they hear from their family, media, and the society, like you mention. Lastly, I agree that racism acts are invincible, but not to all. Many adults are present during those acts and they are capable to identify them. It is their job to intervene, but most likely just refuse to because of social pressure, own personal racist ideas, or not wanting to cause problems at school and with parents for instance. After reading this post I wonder whether or not Islam students are the only religious group being bullied.

You write a very good response about such a difficult topic, and you are right in saying that this is a global issue. Race and religion are common factors for persecution all around the world, and in the past months I've heard far too many tales of children in schools being discriminated against for these reasons.
In Irving, Texas, a Muslim boy named Ahmed Mohammed built a clock out of a pencil case. He brought it to school, proud of his achievements, and was arrested because his teacher assumed it was a bomb. Many people believe the issue would never have been raised were it not for his ethnic or religious background.
In Saint-Louis, a black third-grader named Edmund Lee was prohibited from returning to school because of an old desegragation law, which refuses to allow black students to go to city schools.
The issue of institutionalized racism in rampant in the United States, and your article demonstrates that it is pervasive in other countries as well. It might be interesting to dig deeper into your research of the United Kingdom or other locations and see how racism affects youth beyond classroom bullying, but also exists systematically in institutions in the country, like it does in the US.

Here are the links in case you are interested in reading more about these stories:

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