ING Efforts Against Student Bullying is Cited in Congressional Hearing; 4/6/11

04/06/11 – In testimony about rising anti-Muslim hate at the first congressional hearing on the Civil Rights of American Muslims on Tuesday, March 29th, Muslim Advocates’ Farhana Khera cited a letter that ING had sent to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in September at the beginning of the school year.  The letter emphasized the importance of recognizing and addressing increasing Islamophobia and harassment of Muslim students in the current environment. This letter follows nearly two years of ING efforts and engagement with the Department of Education, including hosting a meeting between the Dept of Education & White House representatives and Muslim, Arab and Sikh parents and children at the ING office last year; release of federal guidelines by the Department of Education that are specific to religion-based harassment in schools, the publicizing of the new DoE website, and participating in the recent White House conference on bullying in March which ING attended.

It is critical to address the problem of harassment and bullying which affects the most vulnerable members of our community.  According to a 2010 survey cited in Muslim Advocates’ testimony, 80% of Muslim youth have experienced harassment, with 50% reporting being called names in front of teachers or administrators. Muslim students have little recourse to address the problem of harassment as they are often afraid to discuss the problem with parents or staff.  To schedule a seminar for teachers and staff that addresses this and other issues, contact [email protected]. Look for an ING panel on the topic at the upcoming ISNA convention in July.

Panel on Middle Eastern Women as Peacemakers at San Jose City College

ING’s president Maha Elgenaidi spoke on a panel of Middle Eastern women at a conference titled “If We Were In Charge: Women as Middle East Peacemakers” at San Jose City College on Thursday, March 31st. In her remarks she emphasized that “Egyptian women, like a major segment of women in other Muslim majority countries are educated professionals with independent minds, personalities and ambitions.” This perception is borne out by a 2008 Gallup poll which found that “88% of Egyptian women say that they should be allowed to work at any job for which they are qualified, a belief that is borne out in Egypt, as in other parts of the Muslim world, where a third of professional and technical workers are women, on par with Turkey and South Korea.”

Interfaith Panel on Religion and Social Engagement at UC Berkeley

ING director Ameena Jandali took part in an interfaith panel on the role of religion in social engagement in a Religious Studies class at UC Berkeley on Wednesday, March 30th. Each panelist described the role of religion in their interest and activism in social engagement and some of the challenges involving religious communities in social and civic work. The other panelists included Sara Miles from St. Gregory’s Food Pantry, Kate Smallenburg Burch from Congregation Netivot Shalom, and Rev. Daniel Buford from Allen Temple Baptist Church.  The panel was followed by questions from the students about each panelist’s specific sphere of activism as well as some of the challenges they face.

Panel on Tolerance at Peninsula High School

An ING speaker was one of three panelists to address the issue of discrimination and harassment of Muslim students as part of a panel on Tolerance at a Peninsula high school on Wednesday, March 30th.  The panel was organized by a student at the school to encourage greater understanding and tolerance among the student population. After a description of some of the challenges faced by Muslim students in a post-9/11 world, including teasing, exclusion, and harassment, the speaker responded to dozens of questions that included many of the typical ones about women’s issues, terrorism, and Islamic teachings. Both the organizer and the school administration were pleased with the response to the topic and the panel. To schedule an ING speaker at your school, contact [email protected].