Polk girl claims bullying over Muslim head scarf - WFLA News Channel 8

Polk girl claims bullying over Muslim head scarf

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Zahrah Habibulla, 14, chose to start wearing the hijab to school Zahrah Habibulla, 14, chose to start wearing the hijab to school
POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - A Polk County student says she has to watch her back at school because of her headgear.

Zahrah Habibulla, 14, chose to start wearing the hijab, or Muslim head scarf, to Ridge Community High School in December.

“As soon as I started wearing it, my friends turned on me.  People weren’t the same,” said Habibulla.

“I’ve been bullied in school, I had verbal assaults, physical assaults,” Habibulla continued.  "This boy opened the door when I was leaving the 9th grade building and he yelled ‘terrorist, terrorist, run’ and he ran away.”

Her mother is worried.

“I pray to God, by the will of Allah, that she will be safe in school.  I worry for her,” said Zameena Habibulla.

The family took their concerns to their imam in Kissimmee, who met with the principal.

“We can’t wait until Zahrah becomes a victim,” said Imam Abufarah of the American Muslim Youth Leadership Council.  “To be quite honest with you, that’s the thing that scares me the most.”

On one occasion, Zahrah met with her principal and two other administrators.

“They said it was my fault for not going to them first instead of going to my mom,” Zahrah said.  “They said that I need to get in to the school more, develop a family there to ‘get out of my shell’… but you know, I don’t see how that would help.”

The Polk County School Board issued the following statement on Tuesday:

"Since learning of these concerns, school officials have taken a proactive role in addressing any issues to ensure the safety and welfare of the student. The School Board remains committed to providing an educational environment that is safe, secure and free from harassment or bullying."

Zahrah’s mother has retained a lawyer.  They are working to schedule a meeting with the principal.

“If any other girl comes to this school and wears a hijab too, I want her to feel comfortable, and that she has the support from the school,” Zahrah said.  “And that nobody would bother her, because I don’t want anybody to go through what I did.”

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