Islamophobic incidents that occurred in 2019 at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts have recently surfaced on the internet. LaGuardia High School has failed to appropriately take action in both instances: Islamophobic behavior from a Physics teacher and the inappropriate and highly offensive use of the Islamic call to prayer (athaan) at a dance performance titled “Inchallah” that is featured on their school website. The Islamic Leadership Council of New York demands an immediate public apology from LaGuardia High School to the Muslim community and to their Muslim student, Duha Elkhouli, in addition to taking down the inappropriate use of the Islamic call to prayer from their website for public display.
Duha Elkhouli, a 16-year old Muslim student who wears the hijab, was called a terrorist by her Physics teacher Mr. Carlos Cheng during class. Following this incident, Duha requested to be put into another Physics class due to her discomfort in Mr. Cheng’s class, which the school refused to grant due to “classroom size restrictions.” The mishandling of the entire situation demonstrates that Islamophobic instances are not taken seriously at all by the school administration, and Muslim students are left to handle problems by themselves. This is a serious injustice to Muslim students who attend school to receive an education, and instead are left feeling isolated and distressed. Furthermore, it was brought to the school’s attention that the sacrilegious display of the Islamic athaan at a dance performance is highly offensive and inappropriate to the Muslim community, yet they chose to ignore these concerns and posted the video on their website anyway.
Callous attitudes towards systemic Islamophobia has no place in our public institutions. Every student and every faith group must be treated with respect and dignity. Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York, a representative for over 90 mosques and organizations calls for accountability in this matter. We demand that the NYC Department of Education address every incident of Islamophobia seriously and hold all their employees accountable for racism. We also ask that the community support Duha Elkhouli by signing this petition led by CAIR New York.