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

NPR3 min read
'Homesick' Is A Boundary-Expanding Story Of Devotion And Growing Up
Accomplished translator Jennifer Croft's first non-translated work is a hybrid, mixing photography and impressionistic autobiographical writing to tell the story of Croft's artistic coming of age.
NPR7 min read
A Fire Lookout On What's Lost In A Transition To Technology
The number of manned fire lookouts in the U.S. is dwindling, as technology is increasingly used to spot and monitor wildfires. But can technology replace a human watch?
NPR3 min readPolitics
UAW Votes For Nationwide Strike To Begin Before Midnight Sunday
The move comes after failing to agree to a new contract with General Motors over wages, health care and profit-sharing. Nearly 50,000 workers will be affected when production halts.