Zahrah Habibulla
Someone Being Bullied
Female | Haines City, FL   United States
Muslim Student Tells Polk County School District of Religious Bullying
Bullying Type: Physical / Emotional
Posted By: Granted
2/12/14 1:05 AM
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The Polk County School District is facing its first religious bullying complaint this school year, a district official said Wednesday.

A 14-year-old girl said she has been attacked because she wears a Muslim head scarf to Ridge Community High School, according to a report posted Tuesday by WESH 2 News in Orlando.

"I've been bullied in school," Zahrah Habibulla said in an interview with WESH. "I had verbal assaults, physical assaults."

Habibulla said she didn't start wearing her hijab, a Muslim head scarf, to the school until Dec. 14.

That's when the problems began.

"This boy opened the door when I was leaving the ninth-grade building and he yelled 'Terrorist! Terrorist! Run!'?" she said.

"A kid, he's stepped on my shoes, he's tried to trip me."

Julie Togba, a spokeswoman for the School District, said it is the first complaint of this nature the district has dealt with this year.

"To my knowledge, I know of no incidences of other religious bullying complaints this school year or last school year," Togba said in an email.

The School District released a comment regarding the complaint: "The Polk County School Board is aware of the concerns expressed by the family. Since learning of these concerns, school officials have taken a proactive role in addressing any issues to ensure the safety and welfare of the student."

The school's principal, Sherry Wells, did not return a phone message Wednesday, and Habibulla and her family were not available for comment.

Polk County sheriff's Capt. Lloyd Stewart, head of the Safe Schools program at the district, said his department hasn't been involved in dealing with the complaint because Habibulla has not received any specific credible threats to his knowledge.

"We certainly want to handle bullying as a discipline issue first, until it rises to a criminal offense," Stewart said.

According to the news station's report, a member of the American Muslim Youth Leadership Council in Kissimmee met with Ridge's principal.

"I believe the school has failed to provide a safe atmosphere for this young lady," Imam Abufarah Helmi Elagha, the council's executive director, told WESH.

The School Board's statement finished by saying the district remains committed to providing an environment "free from harassment and bullying."

"The safety and welfare of all of our students is a top priority," the district concluded.

Habibulla's mother has hired a lawyer and is attempting to schedule a meeting with school officials, according to the WESH report.

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Story Details

Name: Zahrah Habibulla
Age: N/A
Country: United States
Location: Haines City, FL
Gender: Female
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Maiden Name: N/A
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Profession: Other
Education level: N/A
University: N/A
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