A member of the Virginia House of Delegates said the Fairfax County School Board is failing in its response to a December attack on a Muslim high school student.
In a letter to the board sent Monday, Ibraheem Samirah, who represents parts of Fairfax and Loudoun counties, said its response to an attack on Fairfax High School student Ekran Mohamed was unacceptable.
A witness said a male student pushed Mohamed to the ground, removed her hijab and assaulted her. The incident sparked a student walkout from county schools in solidarity with Mohamed, while a Fairfax County Police Department investigation concluded that no racial comments were made.
Samirah denounced the attack as an act of bigotry and reiterated that multiple eyewitnesses reported the attacker having used anti-Muslim slurs, despite police findings.
“The initial response to this incident is unacceptable. Fairfax High School neglected to properly address the situation by ensuring the safety of Muslim students,” Samirah wrote.
“Contrary to the FCPD’s comments, eyewitnesses have verified that the individuals who assaulted Ms. Mohammed used Islamophobic slurs and drew anti-Muslim illustrations in addition to removing Ms. Mohammed’s hijab.”
Samirah backed recommendations from community members to improve school policies on accommodating Muslim students, removing Islamophobic content from classrooms and promoting lessons about the Middle East and the Islamic Golden Age.
He also called for the school district to hold cultural sensitivity trainings for faculty and administrators to better equip them in recognizing and responding to Islamophobic bullying.
Mohamed’s lawyer, Abed Ayoub, said the altercation began in a classroom where the perpetrator was among a group of students crossing out Islamic symbols. When Mohamed went to alert a teacher, Ayoub said, she was grabbed by the neck and shoved.
“There’s multiple witnesses who can attest to racist and Islamophobic comments and overtures being made immediately prior to the incident into the assault,” Ayoub told WTOP.
A Change.org petition demanding accountability for the incident has garnered 35,000 signatures in the four weeks since it was posted.
WTOP has contacted the school system for comment.