RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Some American Muslims say they’re feeling backlash after the attacks in Paris and debate over Syrian refugees. Here in North Carolina, some Muslim kids say they’re feeling bullied because of their religion.
Maya Saib, of Raleigh, is a pretty typical 13 year old. She studies , she cheers, and she’s popular among her 8th grade classmates. Still, she’s heard a lot of hurtful comments lately.
“Some people just are hateful,” she said.
Maya says other kids target her because of her Muslim religion and the comments have been getting more frequent since the attacks in Paris.
“People have said, ‘I hope you don‘t get a pilot’s license ever,’ or ‘How do you go through security lines?’ and stuff like that and somebody asked me if I was a Nazi at one point,” she said, adding, “The other day after the Paris attacks they said ‘were you in Paris the other day?’ and they were just being really rude.”
“It just makes me really sad that this is the world we live in,” said her mom, Tina Saib.
Some Muslim families say the recent attacks are forcing difficult conversations with their kids.
“Instead of talking about social media and what she should be doing on snapchat, I’m having to tell her that, ‘You know what happened in Paris, the people that did it does not represent who we are,’ and it’s hard.”
Josh Hinson is a professor at UNC’s School of Social Work. He says hurtful comments often come out of fear. “I think everyone is afraid and when we’re afraid we don’t make the best decisions possible,” said Hinson.
He says the best way to combat stereotypes is to open a dialogue.
“Understanding or reaching out and trying to understand the experience and viewpoints of Americans with Middle Eastern descent or Americans who practice the Muslim faith is one of the most important first steps,” he added.
Maya and her mom ask others to keep an open mind and get to know their neighbors of all cultures and religions.
“Don’t generalize Muslims or really anybody because it’s most likely not who they really are,” said Maya.