November 17, 2023

KTVU | Fox2

A Muslim middle school student in San Francisco says she was the victim of an Islamophobic attack by two classmates as she walked home from school.

“It makes me feel really sad,” the 12-year-old girl told KTVU on Friday. “All of this is because of what’s happening in the Middle East right now.”

The seventh-grade student was walking home from Francisco Middle School on Oct. 25 when she was allegedly punched in the back of the head, which caused her to fall.

“Somebody starts punching me in the back of my head, and after that I fall down,” she said. “I hit my head really hard on the ground…that’s when she starts saying the F-word and she says, ‘Muslims.’ “

While the girl was on the ground, one of the alleged assailants hit her multiple times in the chest and ribs.

The victim sustained a concussion as a result of the assault. She identified her assailants as two of her classmates – both girls – after looking at a yearbook.

“The school needs to take corrective action, and they need to move quickly,” said Zahra Billoo, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA). 

“The attackers allegedly yelled ‘You f***ing Muslims,'” said Billoo. “The attackers knew her religious identity. That is evidenced by their alleged slurs.”

The girl’s mother reported the incident to the school’s vice principal on Oct. 26 and, in a follow-up meeting, provided the names of the alleged involved students. The mother reported that one of the students had been asking other classmates for her daughter’s address and bus routes.

Billoo said the San Francisco Unified School District still has not taken any action. However, the school district said in a statement they are investigating the incident.

“She is not safe at school, and it is inadequate to still be investigating,” said Billoo. “What we require is swift action on the school to protect this young girl and all of their Arab and Muslim students.”

The district said the incident occurred outside of school hours and off campus, but they underscored that hate has no place in the community and won’t be tolerated.

“Immediately upon learning of this, the district began an investigation and is working directly with impacted students and families. We are deeply concerned by reports that hate speech between the students was a factor in this altercation. Per California Education Code and district policies, there are serious consequences for hate speech and violence,” the district said in a statement.

Francisco Middle School is the same school where a student was stabbed in March, allegedly by another student.

Billoo said the district needs to step up when it comes to addressing the most recent incident.

“Their lackadaisical approach to a Muslim girl being violently assaulted by her peers, knowing who the assailants were is inadequate,” said Billoo. “This is not casual playground bullying, which is also not to be tolerated. This was a violent assault.”

The school district said it would not go into further detail about its investigation in order to protect student privacy.