As Syrian refugees prepare for school, new guide helps deal with Islamophobia

Guide aims to help educators understand the trauma Syrian children have gone through as they prepare for first day of school.

Toronto Star | August 24, 2016

OTTAWA — Last spring, school boards grappled with the practical issues that came with welcoming thousands of new Syrian students: finding them desks, pencils, books.

But as they gear up for this school year, Muslim organizations hope they can turn their attention to another problem: warding off the dirty looks — and worse — that many Muslim students say they get at school.

Schools have wrestled with Islamophobia since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 but there was never intense educator interest in combating the problem, said Amira Elghawaby, communications director for the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

That’s changed, she said.

“The previous federal election where Islam and Muslims were at the forefront for all the wrong reasons, combined with the arrival of Syrian refugees, suddenly this is on people’s radars,” she said.

. . .

The guide discusses the psychological impact of hate and discrimination, offering by way of an example a U.S. news story about Muslim children running to pack up their dolls and toys in response to rhetoric there about a ban on Muslim immigrants. It also takes people through some of what newly arrived refugee children grapple with, such as issues of grief and mistrust, and how that can play out in the classroom.

“The biggest take away is just to put yourself in the shoes of a Canadian Muslim student or a newly arrived refugee or immigrant student who is Muslim,” Elghawaby said.

Read full article.