The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is expressing concern about an incident at Charles H. Best Junior Middle School in Toronto’s North York region where a visibly Muslim student was depicted in a Tik Tok featuring a bomb animation next to her face and background music that includes lyrics, “I’m a terrorist.”
The video has since been taken down and the account suspended after complaints from the parents, NCCM and community members.
As a result of this incident, the grade 8 student, who has a prolific history of participating in various extracurricular activities, feels unsafe being at school and among her peers.
“I can’t describe what it feels like to see an image of your child being degraded like this in a TikTok video. It is truly heartbreaking and scary. When we reached out to the school to take action against this threat of violence against our daughter, the school did not respond with the sense of concern and urgency we would expect for an incident like this. Throughout this process, we felt neglected, excluded, and brushed aside. The only time we saw some action taken on this Islamophobic incident was after the senior administration got involved. It should not take this much effort to have a clear threat of violence against a minor dealt with by a school,” said the father of the student who was the subject of the TikTok video.
The student’s family wishes to remain anonymous to protect their identity.
The family also does not feel that the school acted with enough urgency to investigate who made the video, to reassure their child that she belongs, and to name the incident as one clearly motivated by Islamophobia and featuring the worst of anti-Muslim tropes - all aimed at a minor.
“This incident unfortunately amounts to a failure in the preservation of student safety, particularly concerning a student belonging to an ethnic, racial, and religious minority group. It is the job of school administrators and teachers to make sure that all students, particularly those who are very young, are made to feel safe as a matter of basic school safety,” said Aasiyah Khan, NCCM Manager of Education Programs.
“While we are glad that the TDSB senior administration stepped in to assist, schools should be equipped to address such incidents expeditiously and to show the student and their family that they are valued members of a school community that prioritizes student safety and inclusion. This starts with acknowledging that what happened is an Islamophobia-motivated incident, and that such incidents deserve to be dealt with speedily and effectively - not in ways that further alienate those involved.”