Around 350 students protested outside Fairfax High School in Fairfax County, VA last Thursday in support of Ekran Mohamed, the Muslim student who had her hijab pulled off by a student called James Nygaard, so as to bring justice to her and hold the school accountable.
Mohamed reported that Nygaard threw her across the room, and beat her up before he took her hijab off — which left her hyperventilating. After the attack, the school claimed that Mohamed just had a panic attack to cover up the whole incident, ignored Mohamed’s request to call her mom, and placed her in a room with Nygaard.
“They put me in a room with him, they took my phone, and I told them ‘I’m gonna call my mom.’ My mom said call…so she knows what’s happening. They didn’t call my mom. And they gave us assignments to do,” Mohamed said on an Instagram live.
“I could barely even think about math when the person that attacked me was sitting right across me. It was disgusting. I couldn’t even eat lunch or anything. I couldn’t even drink water because he was sitting right there,” Mohamed continued.
Fairfax High School didn’t report the incident to FCPS. It was the protests that made them aware of the whole situation, and thus they started investigating.
However, in a statement released yesterday, FCPS stated, “The police investigation determined the physical altercation between two Fairfax High School students was not a hate crime,” adding that they were still investigating the physical altercation.
Reagan Wise, a student at Fairfax High School, told WTOP, “The guy who did it did not face any trouble and is currently still threatening other students.”
Mohamed reported that Nygaard is Egyptian. He reportedly called her racial slurs, and allegedly said he could do whatever he wanted because of his nationality. Mohamed is Somali, and part of the hate that she got, besides for being a Muslim, was because she’s Black.
Students have been marching the streets and halls, peacefully protesting, and signing petitions so that no other hijabi student would feel traumatized by having her hijab pulled off.
“Her hijab is so important to her. I was talking to her about it, and she, like, felt so bad, so exposed,” Wise said.
“It’s like it’s very valuable and for her to be exposed, for her to have that one thing that’s protecting her, and having that taken off for everyone to see, it was incredibly damaging for her,” said Amira Bouhsane, a Fairfax High School student.
Abed Ayoub, Legal and Policy Director of The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has been working with Mohamed ever since the assault to make sure that she gets her rights. He stated that law enforcement was still investigating the assault, and that “many witnesses are left to interview.”
Several students from other schools have marched in solidarity with Mohamed last Friday as well. However, it’s suspected that Nygaard didn’t face any punishments even after all these protests because his parents work for Fairfax County public schools.
Meanwhile, Nygaard has been mocking the whole incident on his Snapchat profile.