Muslim schoolgirls in hijabs ‘asked to leave careers show because people felt threatened’

Staff reportedly told the students their hijabs were seen as threatening in the wake of the Manchester terror attacks 

Harriet Marsden
Saturday 03 June 2017 19:35
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'It is very tight and in some cases too short as some of the girls have long hair and so it defeats the object to wear it'
'It is very tight and in some cases too short as some of the girls have long hair and so it defeats the object to wear it'

Muslim students in Australia were allegedly forced to leave an event because their hijabs were making people feel “uncomfortable after what happened in Manchester”.

The schoolgirls, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were attending a careers expo at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre (PDEC) on 26 May, just days after the suicide bombing in Manchester left 22 dead and at least 50 injured.

They claim that other attendants asked staff to remove them from the venue, saying they felt threatened by their "Muslim attire", or headscarves.

The PDEC confirmed to WA Today that an official complaint was made about an incident, and a spokesperson said the centre did not condone discrimination of any kind.

The spokesperson also added, following an internal investigation, that the centre did not believe that any of its staff were involved.

The mother of one of the students, who wishes to remain anonymous, said her daughter and school friends were told by their teacher to pack up their lunch and leave.

“I’m not angry, I’m just sad,” she said.

“I feel particularly sad that my daughter went on an excursion and didn’t enjoy it.

“For starters, how can people think what the students are wearing has anything to do with what happens elsewhere? If I was there, I would’ve asked [...] what is it about how the girls are dressed that made them feel uncomfortable?”

The mother claimed a stallholder told her daughter: “In our country young people ask for help,” despite the fact the girl was born and raised in Perth.

Mariam Veiszadeh, president of Islamophobia Register Australia, expressed her disappointment over the alleged incident.

“Time and time again, we come across examples of ignorant prejudice in which every day people conflate the faith of 1.6 plus billion Muslims worldwide with that of the murderous acts of a group who hold themselves out to be Muslims," she said.

Rates of Islamophobic prejudice, discrimination and hate crimes generally spike following jihadi terrorist attacks.

Ms Veiszadeh said “women often bear the brunt of Islamophobia,” and that a “rather alarming number of incidents” take place in front of children.

“There has been very little research done into the impact of Islamophobia on young people and the inevitable impact it would have on their sense of identity and self-worth," she said.

The mother of the schoolgirl added: “I see this as an opportunity to raise awareness and get a deeper understanding of how young Muslims in Australia feel.

“These are young people who feel on the outside, who were made to feel isolated, yet they should be embraced by our society.”

Ms Veiszadeh revealed: “In the coming months we will launch a comprehensive, first of its kind report on Islamophobia in Australia which will critically analyse verified incidents of Islamophobia reported to the Islamophobia Register Australia during the period 2014/2015.”

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