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.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR6 min readSociety
Do You Need That Surgery? How To Decide, And How To Pick A Surgeon If You Do
When you have a serious health problem that calls for surgery, the last thing you need is the stress of navigating the health care system to find a skilled surgeon. We have tips to make it easier.
NPR5 min readPolitics
Trump's 'Go Back' Rhetoric Is Sign Of A Racially Divisive And Turbulent Year To Come
President Trump has used white grievance to fuel his candidacy since he first came onto the political scene. So what he's doing now with four congresswomen of color is hardly a surprise.
NPR4 min readPolitics
Hoping For Improved U.S. Ties, Pakistan's Prime Minister Set To Visit White House
Tensions have beset the U.S.-Pakistan relationship for years. The planned July 22 meeting between President Trump and Imran Khan comes as the U.S. tries to finalize Afghanistan peace negotiations.