Maimona Afzal Berta teaches 8th grade at Fischer Middle School in San Jose, California, and has reported 15 anti-Muslim incidents which she experienced as a teacher at the school. On September 11th, Ms. Berta arrived early to work and as she walked up to her classroom, saw anti-Muslim slurs and obscenities scrawled on her class windows and door. Around this time, Ms. Berta reports that students kicked at her classroom door, harassed her by calling her a terrorist, and shouted that was going to “kill us all.”
From January to November, Ms. Berta says there were 15 incidents targeting and two other Muslim teachers/aides who wear the hijab. “It’s devastating. I feel completely targeted, and not even safe in a place I consider home,” says the 23 year old teacher.
In response, the school administration has held assemblies on bullying, workshops on stereotypes and misconceptions about Muslims, and exercises in character-building. The school plans to train teachers in an interactive curriculum led by the Islamic Network Group. “At the Alum Rock Union School District, we will never tolerate any behavior that makes either our students or team members feel marginalized,” states Superintendent Hilaria Bauer.
Ms. Berta says that’s sadly “lip service” as only a few students have been disciplined and no suspects have been arrested. “You can’t keep telling people that you care and want to stop hate. And yet you don’t follow through with actions.”