A Muslim teen from Virginia is being harassed online after claiming that her teacher physically assaulted her, forcefully removing her hijab.
Yasmin Yahye alleges that Lake Braddock Secondary School teacher Lesmond Saunders removed her headscarf without her consent.
“My hijab was ripped off my head,” she said. Unfortunately, she continued, this action was carried out “by a teacher I appreciated and valued.”
Now, some of her fellow students and even another teacher are using online platforms to harass Yahye.
So my hijab was ripped off my head today.— ?? (@yasmemee) November 15, 2017
By a teacher I appreciated and valued.— ?? (@yasmemee) November 15, 2017
I was in a middle of a conversation with my friend and HE came from behind me and pulled it off— ?? (@yasmemee) November 15, 2017
Then he says “Oh your hair is so pretty” and tries to play it off like it’s a joke. When clearly he should know better because HE’S a grown ass man and shouldn’t even be touching students— ?? (@yasmemee) November 15, 2017
In one instance, a student even called her a “dumb Muslim b***.”
On Twitter, George Shoriz wrote, "F*** that dumb Muslim b**** she had a hoodie on top of her hijab and sanders [sic] took the hoody [sic] off."
Reaching out to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR ), Yahye explained that she is now the victim of cyberbullying . Unfortunately, CAIR has learned of too many similar cases recently and fears that the rise in anti-Muslim incidents is due to President Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric.
“The students and teacher are retaliating against Yasmin for reporting her incident. Shamefully, their comments indicate anti-Muslim sentiment,” CAIR’s attorney, Ahmed Mohamed, wrote.
With Saunders placed on indefinite suspension and without pay, the school is now investigating the incident.
Many students have shown support to Saunders, coming up with the #FreeSaunders hashtag and even staging a sit-in last week. According to them, Yahye’s account isn’t accurate.
Truth pt.1 pic.twitter.com/sAxbQaZsfU— Manaal Baig (@manaal_baig) November 16, 2017
Truth pt.2 pic.twitter.com/9AUHvnF6zl— Manaal Baig (@manaal_baig) November 16, 2017
Ngl everyone be so quick to call people racist as if they were in the fucking classroom but still don’t wanna believe the 20+ eyewitnesses that were actually present in the classroom y’all #FreeSaunders— Sarah (@Brick_Boxer) November 19, 2017
I hope your 5 mins of fame were worth it because now this amazing educator may never invigorate the minds of young students and help them become something in this world. #freesaunders pic.twitter.com/rRSuAG1aiA— Abraham Morkos (@bkrandyswag) November 16, 2017
Teacher Susan Howard has also joined the students, using Twitter to claim that Yahye has ruined Saunders’ career “for 5 minutes of fame.”
He didn't do it on purpose— TunnelBear Fan (@GoTunnelBear) November 18, 2017
He didn't mean it
He's not racist
He is kind
He is on force leave
You ruined his career
You ruined his record
All for 5 minutes of fame.#freesaunders
To CAIR’s Mohamed, the fact another teacher is also accusing Yahye of making unfounded accusations is detrimental as it inhibits students from seeking help when victimized by school staff.
“How can future students be expected to report teachers or staff for inappropriate conduct when a teacher is leading the charge to intimidate, bully and silence Yasmin,” he asked.
In order to keep students from further attacking Yahye, Lake Braddock Secondary School principal David Thomas sent a letter to parents urging them to talk to their children and ask them “to refrain from engaging in personal attacks about this incident on social media platforms.”
“Bullying and cyberbullying,” he said, “are violations of the FCPS Student Rights and Responsibilities regulation and the rules of conduct apply to students off school property and outside school hours if the conduct is detrimental to the school or affects school discipline.”
While the school’s investigation is ongoing, it's too soon to say whether Yahye overreacted, or whether she was correct to have accused her teacher of forcefully removing her hijab. Still, it's important to keep an eye on stories of aggression toward Muslim Americans as the country has seen a major increase in anti-Muslim incidents recently.