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It is hard and scary enough to start at a new school, and even harder when you're just entering high school, but for Ammaarah it was tougher still - she was the only girl in her school who wore a hijab.
She was scared, and nervous, and really felt like she stood out - just different - and she was afraid that people would question her, or look at her strangely. But, to her surprise and delight, they didn't. Everyone seemed to accept her, and she started to feel comfortable.
Later in the year, she was sitting in class and just minding her own business, and a small group of boys were in the corner playing truth or dare. One of the boys came up behind her and ripped her hijab off of her head. He showed no respect for her beliefs or how traumatic the experience would be for her. To them it was a hat or a scarf. To her, it protected her modesty.
She froze - so shocked and embarrassed, but also very upset that her hijab, which was so important to her, had been snatched away. She felt so uncomfortable, so upset, and so she took her jacket off and covered her hair - then ran toward the door to get a teacher or help from someone. BUT, those bullies blocked her path, they weren't done yet, and they grabbed her and tried to pull the blazer off her head. They chanted "Let us see your hair! Let us see your hair!" with hate and discrimination in their hearts. While this might have seemed like a prank to the boys, this was not a prank. It was serious bullying and a show of disrespect towards this 16 year old girl.
The fear was very real to her. She felt attacked, wanted to cry, but just begged them to leave her alone and somehow managed to get to the door right when the teacher arrived. She told the teacher what happened, and how upset she was that people had seen her hair - it was part of her beliefs and very important to her - she didn't know what to do.
She ran to the bathroom and was freaking out, wanted to call her dad, wanted to run away, but she took a few deep breathes and calmed herself down, then put her hijab back on and covered her hair.
When she got back to the classroom all the students were gone except for the boys who had bullied her. The teacher was scolding them, well, actually she was yelling and screaming at them. The boys looked like they were about to cry, and Ammaarah felt that maybe they had learned their lesson.
After a little while everyone seemed to forget about that moment, and Ammaarah made friends and felt comfortable again.
Perhaps those boys didn't know how important it was to Ammaarah to cover her hair and wear her hijab, or perhaps they did and they just didn't like that she was different, or believed differently, but either way, the one thing her classmates didn't forget was how mean and ignorant those boys were and how they disrespected her.
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