November 16, 2023

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today condemned the Islamophobic assault on a seventh-grade Muslim student at Francisco Middle School in San Francisco, Calif., and called on the school to conduct a thorough investigation.

On Oct. 25, the victim was reportedly attacked by two fellow students while walking home from school. She was allegedly punched in the back of the head, causing her to fall. One of her attackers then mounted her, striking her multiple times in the chest and ribs. As they left, one of the attackers directed an Islamophobic slur at her, saying, “F***ing Muslims.” The victim, who suffered a concussion as a result of the assault, was able to identify her assailants after reviewing a Francisco Middle School yearbook.

The victim’s mother reported the attack to the school vice principal on Oct. 26 and provided the attackers’ names during a subsequent meeting on Oct. 30. During the meeting, the victim’s mother expressed concerns about the safety of her daughter and other Muslim students at the school, as one of the attackers was reportedly asking other students at the school for her daughter’s address and bus routes.

The victim’s mother reported that she received no commitment from the vice principal that the attack would be investigated.

In a statement, Senior Civil Rights Attorney Jeffrey Wang said, “San Francisco Unified School District’s Board Policy clearly states that no student should be subjected to harassment, threats or hate-motivated behavior. 

“CAIR-SFBA is concerned that no visible corrective action has been taken against the attackers, leaving the victim afraid of returning to school. We are deeply troubled by the lack of assurances that these events will be thoroughly investigated and that necessary safety measures will be implemented to protect the victim and other Muslim students from further harm.” 

CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo added, “This incident is not isolated. It reflects a broader pattern of Islamophobia and harassment that Muslim students face in schools. It is imperative that the school district takes immediate and decisive action to address this hate-motivated crime.” 

CAIR-SFBA urged school administrators to prioritize the safety and well-being of all students, urgently calling on the school administration to take the following steps. 

  • Conduct a thorough investigation: Ensure a comprehensive examination of the assault, as well as allegations of bullying and harassment targeting Muslim students on campus. 
  • Collaborate on a safety plan: Work closely with the victim and her parents to establish a comprehensive safety plan in line with the District Policy. 
  • Issue a public statement: Address the Francisco Middle School community publicly, reiterating the school’s zero-tolerance policy for bullying and affirming the commitment to maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for all students. 
  • Develop a strategy against Islamophobia and anti-Semitism: In response to the current environment of heightened Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, implement a proactive strategy and response plan to ensure the safety and well-being of all students. 
  • Provide mental health resources: Offer resources for mental health support and counseling services to create a safe space for students facing emotional or psychological challenges. 

CAIR California (CAIR-CA) recently released its 2023 Bullying Report, which revealed that more than 40% of Muslim students in California schools reported being bullied, which is double the national average. It has also released a guide that contains practical advice for both students and their families on how to recognize bullying when they experience or witness it and how to advocate for themselves in response. 

SEE: CAIR-CA’s 2023 Bullying Report   

SEE: CAIR’s Guide to Addressing Bullying and Bias in Schools