Islamophobia not common at DHS, students say

Hoda Balla is one of many Muslim students at Davis High.

By Claire Bachand, Staff–

In the wake of the vandalism of Davis’ mosque and President Donald Trump’s travel ban, it seems as though Islamophobia is running high in the United States. However, per Davis High students, this racism has not reached DHS campus.   

Junior Habboba Musa, a Muslim student, says that although she has never experienced direct prejudice on campus, there have been instances where she has felt uncomfortable.

Sometimes this discomfort is caused by a negative comment that has racist implications.

“The comments are normally irrelevant and only display the person’s misunderstanding [of my religion], and put me in an awkward situation,” Musa said.

Other times, this discomfort is caused by class discussions.

“I have often been involved in some conversations in my classes where we discussed terrorist attacks, and it is always uncomfortable when someone tries to connect Islam and terrorism, which is not true,” Musa said.

While Musa tries to defend Islam, and confirm that it is not a religion of terrorism, she has noticed that her peers and teachers don’t typically join in her efforts.

Off DHS campus, Musa has experienced worse than discomfort.

“I have been insulted because of my hijab outside of school. I believe people probably see my hijab, my headscarf, and immediately make assumptions about me and my religion,” Musa said.

Similarly, junior Hoda Balla has never been subject to racism at DHS, but off campus is a different story.

“I was with my friend who also wore the headscarf, we were in the [public] library, and then they made a comment about ISIS when we walked by them,” Balla said. “I wasn’t that affected by it, it was just kind of weird seeing it from a student.”

Still, Balla sees Davis as a relatively safe place.

“Especially in Davis, everyone is really open [minded], so they don’t treat me differently,” Balla said. “Other people who live in places that aren’t as encouraging of diversity [are probably treated differently],” Balla said.

Balla has also witnessed Islamophobia on the internet, which she finds less hurtful than Islamophobia in person. She used to read conservative posts on Instagram in order to understand their points of view, but now she has realized that this is pointless.

“Whoever is writing those horrible things is pathetic to hide behind a screen,” Balla said. “I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of the people running those pages disregard human rights and aren’t respectful of anyone with different views.”

Balla suspects that most Islamophobic people are either ignorant or misinformed. Both Balla and Musa wish that people understood the true nature of their religion— that it is a religion of peace, not hate.

“We just try our best to be a part of this country and not trying to terrorize anybody and we don’t like hate people of a certain race or sexuality or anything that defines them,” Balla said.

Musa points out that Islam is not all that different from Christianity and Judaism. In fact, it shares several stories with the Bible and the Torah.

“At Sunday school we were taught to respect and coexist with other religions and people. We were also taught to follow the example of Prophet Muhammad, who respected his neighbors and acquaintances even when they hurt him and his followers,” Musa said.

Musa says that ISIS, which sways from these ideologies, is not representative of the beliefs of the 1.7 billion Muslims around the world.

“War in Islam is only acceptable in self-defense, and even then it has strict limitations, and what the groups in the Middle East are doing is wrong and unjustified,” Musa said. “[It is] something that the large majority of Muslims would condemn.”

“I just hope to be the person who breaks the stereotype of Islam being connected to terrorism by being a good citizen,” Musa said.   

Sometimes, Musa feels like she must go out of her way to prove her loyalty to the United States. She worries that if she doesn’t, people will think that she agrees with what is happening in the Middle East.

Balla also believes that some people doubt her loyalty to the United States, but she doesn’t go out of her way to prove it.

“I think it’s important for everyone to expect the best out of other people and if people can’t do that for me, they’re not worth it,” Balla said.

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