Paris attacks: Bullies target Edinburgh Muslim girl

The mother and daughter say the bullying has intensified following the terror attacks in Paris. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The mother and daughter say the bullying has intensified following the terror attacks in Paris. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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A MOTHER has pulled her young daughter out of a city high school, claiming anti-Islamic bullying has intensified in the wake of the Paris attacks.

The woman said her daughter, whose identity the News is protecting, has been a victim of bullies in the past, but this week “things have got worse”.

“They called my daughter the ‘F’ word and insulted her for being Muslim,” the mother said.

“They said so many things about her being Muslim, it is too painful to speak about.

“The bullying has got worse since the Paris attacks at the weekend. Nobody deserves to be treated like she has been.”

The mother took her daughter out of the school after claiming teachers had not dealt with the matter.

Equality campaigners have backed the family, and said Islamophobia has increased significantly since the latest international terrorist attack carried out by Islamic State.

Fiyaz Mughal, the director of Tell Mama, a service which supports victims of 
anti-Muslim hate across the UK, said there has been a surge in incidents across Scotland since Friday’s atrocity.

“Schools are coming back to us from all over Britain about increases in Islamophobia since the Paris attacks,” he said.

“There is a definitive connection between international and national incidents, and bullying increasing in schools.

“After the Charlie Hebdo incident, a number of schools across the UK came to us to say they wanted professionals in their classrooms to speak to the children about what had happened. They wanted support to deal with Islamophobic bullying.

“What we often find is instead of schools putting their hands up and saying they can’t handle what is going on, they try to cover it up.”

The mother said: “I’m worried and scared for my daughter – I took her out of the school for her own protection.”

The woman said she received a phone call from her 13-year-old daughter on Wednesday. She said the child was “crying down the phone”, saying “everyone was laughing at her”.

She said: “A boy in the class kept pulling her hijab. He pulls it and taps her head for no reason.

“We had an incident of it before, but it’s happened again this week.

“When I told the teacher to do something, she said ‘your daughter needs to tell us when something happens’ and that there was no fuss to complain about.

“It really makes me angry.”

The mother added: “She’s been called nasty names to do with being a Muslim and she goes into the toilets and cries.

“One girl has even threatened to throw acid in her face before.

“I pulled my younger daughter out of the school, too – she has complained people have called her brown poo.

“I feel like no-one cares because we are Muslim, it’s 
ridiculous.”

This week, it emerged support for resettling Syrian refugees in Britain has slumped since the weekend’s tragedy.

A poll, conducted by YouGov, showed the number of Brits who believed more Syrian refugees should be rehomed here had dropped from 36 per cent to 20 per cent since the survey was conducted in September.

The higher number poll had been collated after three-year-old Syrian child Aylan Kurdi was found face down on a Turkish beach in September.
The child’s family had fled Syria along with thousands on rickety boats and Aylan died during the perilous journey.

The Edinburgh mother said she is seeking a new school for her daughters but if she is unsuccessful, she will consider having them home-schooled.

She said: “I am stressed that my daughters are losing out on their education because of this. My children should feel comfortable at school because they are there to be educated for six hours a day.”

A city council spokesman said the school had looked into “an incident” this week involving the hijab, with witnesses being interviewed, but there was “no evidence” to back up the claim or allegation.

Victor Spence, honorary president of the Edinburgh Inter Faith Association, said action needed to be taken.

He said: “It’s an unacceptable level of ignorance and abuse by any young people toward another human being.

“Parents must take a lead role in the home to address this type of behaviour.

“The school must address this quickly and the community of schools need to address other potentials with a strategy of mutual respect and understanding.

“Schools could have special assemblies right now to address negative potentials of a backlash in regard current international issues.

“Let’s nip this in the bud – there is no excuse for the abuse of innocents in our community through ignorance, disrespect or hate.”

The council spokesman said: “A lot of positive work is carried out in our schools to promote equality and highlight unacceptable 
behaviour.

“Every school has policies to prevent and respond to such incidents. Any form of bullying or racism will not be tolerated and great strides are being made to tackle these issues to ensure every child in Edinburgh feels safe and 
respected in our schools.”

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com