By Elham Asaad Buaras
A Dudley teenager who has suffered Islamophobic abuse at her West Midlands school has spoken out in a bid to get the school to take her ordeal seriously.
Aneeka Zareen has issued a plea to officials at Castle High School, St James’s Road, to adequately punish her tormentors.
The 15- year old told The Muslim News she is the victim to a series of Islamophobic bullying.
Aneeka says the during one lesson on April 22 a classmate continuously called her a “terrorist” and asked her if she was “involved in the 9/11 bomb attack. He was saying these disgusting racist remarks to me because I wear hijab [headscarf].”
She says on the same day another boy tried to pull her hijab. “It was when the bell went for home-time, I came down by the staff’s toilets and someone tried to pull my headscarf. I was too scared to turn around and see who did it.”
Aneeka said she felt “distraught” when she was subjected to yet more Islamophobic slurs during her Math lesson the following day from the same student.
“He called me ‘terrorist’ and ‘can you make a bomb’; he said all sorts of nasty and racist remarks.”
Despite reporting both incidents to the school’s student progress manager and writing a statement, Aneeka only secured a meeting with the Head Teacher a week after lodging her complaint.
“Head Teacher Michelle King called me into her office and showed me the CCTV footage of my headscarf being pulled. She says that she could not see anyone physically touching me. But when I saw the CCTV I saw a boy reaching towards to my headscarf and suddenly ducks behind his friend,” said Aneeka.
Aneeka says her complaint was dismissed and instead of receiving support she was condescendingly told by her Head Teacher she would make “a crap lawyer”.
Aneeka’s mother Aliya Zareen says she is unsatisfied with the schools response. “I got a telephone call from the Deputy Head who told me the student who called her a terrorist admitted making the remarks but said it was a joke. He said the boy was offered to apologise to my daughter but I told them to keep him away from her. They did not mention any punishment,” Aliya told The Muslim News.
Aliya said her daughter was subjected to more teasing when she was confronted about her complaint by the same boy and other students during lessons.
“It saddens me to see the school has not taken this matter seriously the way they should have done and it worries me to think what these individuals will turn out to be when they are older.”
Castle High School said they are a “proud multi cultural school” and in a statement to The Muslim News, a spokesman for the school said they take “all forms of bullying very seriously. We were made aware of an issue of name calling and the student in question was reprimanded with the appropriate sanction, involving parental meetings and internal exclusion. A further complaint was made regarding the removal of a student’s hijab and a thorough investigated was conducted. ”
According to anti-racism charities, there has been a rise in Islamophobia in schools around the UK, and there are concerns that schools are not sure how to deal with it.
Sarah Soyei, from the anti-racism charity, Show Racism the Red Card, said: “We are seeing a growth in racist bullying towards Muslims students, and those from Roma, Gypsy and travelling communities.
“The fear of terrorism and the growth of right wing groups like the English Defence League has contributed to a growth of Islamophobia in many classrooms around the country.
“Young people can pick up racist behaviour from parents or friends and from not understanding certain situations.”
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