VMSS girls bring awareness to Islamophobia

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VMSS girls bring awareness to Islamophobia

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A group of VMSS students organized a walkout on Wednesday in response to last week’s mosque shootings in New Zealand. About 60 students left class at 1:00 and met outside the front entrance of the school.

On March 15, a gunman in New Zealand went into two mosques and opened fire. He had on a helmet with a camera that was live-streaming everything on Facebook. The video begins with him walking towards the front doors and a Muslim greeter saying, “Welcome Brother!” Within an instant, the Muslim greeter was dead. That was the first death of 50 people along with 12 others injured. The world sat still, not knowing what to do about this new predicament.

With the world confused, the Muslim community was in turmoil. They have always been wary and cautious about Islamophobia, but to many, this was a new low. Slowly but surely, people around the world started protesting, giving the Muslim community strength from all over the world.

Some Muslim girls at Valley Middle School of STEM felt that strength and organized a walkout. They wanted their school to learn more about their religion. To make the school understand. They prepared speeches and a poster to show and say what they have never felt the need to say. The fellow students watched intently, feeling for their Muslim peers.

“We want people to know that we are not terrorists,” said eighth-grader Sumaya Bare. “I feel the students at our school need to be educated in our background in order to support us and people like us,” she added. These girls, many of whom often feel criticized and unheard, brought light to a subject that many are afraid to talk about.

Ayan Ali, a coordinator of the walkout said it was hard to write the speeches. “While we were thinking of things to say, we were struggling to write appropriate words. The whole situation is crazy and mind boggling,” she said. Fowziya Mohamed, another walkout participant, felt that people don’t really understand that Islam is all about peace. 

I feel the students at our school need to be educated in our background in order to support us and people like us.”

— Sumaya Bare, 8th grader

Mr. McKeag, Principal of VMSS said, “I always get a little scared when kids do a walkout. I don’t know what’s going to happen or how many students are going to leave or what they’re going to do. Some kids are very passionate about this, and some of their colleagues don’t feel that passion and won’t respect why they are protesting.” McKeag also gets excited when he sees students exercising their rights. “To me, it’s exciting because schools should reflect a democracy because our country is a democracy where people have a right to having their voice heard and advocate for a cause. If I can help students do that in a way that’s constructive and appropriate, then that’s what I will do,” he stated.

The cause was clear for the walkout organizers. Muslim students at VMSS want people to understand them for who they are. “Judge us by who we are, not what we wear,” Mohamed said. 

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