A 15-year-old Muslim girl in the US has claimed she was evicted from a school bus by a driver twice because of her hijab, prompting her family to demand an apology from the school district.
Janna Bakeer, a girl who attends Timpview High School in Provo City, Utah, tried to ride a bus home when the bus driver used the bus’s intercom system and said, “Hey you with the blue hair thingie, get off the bus, you don’t belong here,” according Randall Spencer, the family’s lawyer.
“It’s (hijab) a part of who I am and where I come from and a part of my religion. Every day, I match my hijab with my outfits,” Bakeer was quoted as saying by ABC News affiliate WBND-LD.
“...the bus driver, she got her speaker and I was wearing a blue scarf. And she’s like, ‘Hey, you with that blue thing, you don’t ride this bus and I’ve never seen you ride it so get off’,” Bakeer said of the incident that took place last month.
She said she felt humiliated and started to cry as she got off the bus. “I was just really embarrassed how everybody was staring.”
The family said they talked with the school to get things worked out for the next time she needed to ride the bus, which happened last Friday.
“I asked her politely, ‘Can I please ride the bus today?’ and she (driver) just put her arm and blocked the walkway to the bus,” Bakeer said.
“I absolutely believe that it was discrimination,” said the family’s attorney Spencer.
“The bus driver didn’t even know Janna’s name, we don’t think, and could not have checked or known she was not on the list to ride the bus,” Spencer was quoted as saying the Daily Herald.
“All the bus driver knew is that she didn’t know her before and she is a Muslim wearing a hijab,” he said.
Caleb Price, spokesman for the Provo City School District, said students can only ride their assigned buses and that the girl was assigned to a different one from the one she boarded.
“From what we can see in our investigation, there was nothing discriminatory about the school bus driver’s behaviour,” he said.
However, Spencer said Janna’s been riding the same bus route since she was in middle school, with different bus drivers.
In addition to an apology, Spencer said the Bakeer family would like the district to do sensitivity training.
The incident comes amid a series of such cases of intimidation and assault that have been reported across the country atrgeting hijab-clad women following Trump’s win.