As a hijabi Muslim student, high school years have not been easy for Doha Ibrahim, as she experiences bullying from her colleagues, pulling her scarf and calling her a terrorist.
This, however, has helped her evolve in personality, as she is now a leader and a member of the Philadelphia school board who will speak for some 200,000 students in district and charter schools throughout the city for the 2019-20 school year, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“I started getting attacked in class,” said 17-year-old Ibrahim, who lives with her younger siblings and her parents, a stay-at-home mom and carpet-installer father.
“Kids would pull my scarf off, say I was a terrorist.”
Ibrahim was born and raised in Canada by Iraqi parents who fled violence in their home country. She moved to Philadelphia in 2015, entering Hamilton Disston Elementary as an eighth grader.
Though the classwork was far easier than it had been in Canada, her peers made life harder for the young hijabi Muslim.
At first, she was angry at her classmates. Eventually, she understood that young people behaved that way because they needed more behavioral and mental health resources, more after-school programs and activities to spark their interest during the school day.
“There’s just a lack of supports,” said Ibrahim, who dreams of studying international development and communications in college.
“Students end up bullying, they ended up cutting class, they ended up not caring about schools.”
Ibrahim sees her appointment in the school board an opportunity in representing Muslim women who often go unheard.
“Wearing a head scarf and being a Muslim, that’s a big thing for me,” said Ibrahim, who enjoys swimming, the TV show Grey’s Anatomy, and has her own photography business.
“In our culture, it’s not easy to let girls stay after school to do things, but this is important.”
Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million Muslims.
Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of visibly Muslim respondents told the Pew Research Center in 2017 that they’ve experienced at least one instance of religious discrimination in the past year.
The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a research firm that focuses on Muslim American issues, found in 2017 that Muslims were about four times as likely as the general public to report that their school-aged children were being bullied.