Home / National News / Muslim Teen Speaks Out After Being Called 'Isis' in Yearbook

 

(RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif.) — A California teenager who was dubbed “Isis Phillips” by classmates in her high school yearbook after she wore a hijab in her photo is speaking out about the label associating her with a terrorist group.

“I am extremely saddened, disgusted, hurt and embarrassed that the Los Osos High School yearbook was able to get away with this. Apparently I am ‘Isis’ in the yearbook,” Bayan Zehlif, 17, said in a Facebook post on Friday. “The school reached out to me and had the audacity to say that this was a typo. I beg to differ, let’s be real.”

A photo of the yearbook’s characterization has gone viral on social media — with more than 4,500 shares on Facebook and more than 4,300 retweets on Twitter — and it has also stirred up intense debate in Zehlif’s Rancho Cucamonga community, about 20 miles west of San Bernardino.

The 12th-grader said during a news conference on Monday that she had looked forward to enjoying her last few days of high school, “until the students of the school started attacking me on social media.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations Los Angeles (CAIR-LA) called for a thorough investigation by the school into this incident and “expressed concern about the safety” of Zehlif.

“We join with the family in their concern about a possible bias motive for this incident and in the deep concern for their daughter’s safety as a result of being falsely labeled as a member of a terrorist group,” Hussam Ayloush, executive director for the CAIR-LA said in a statement. “No student should have to face the humiliation of being associated with a group as reprehensible as ISIS.”

“I’m very sad because of what happened. I’m very embarrassed,” Zehlif said during the new conference. “I feel like a lot of people are looking up to me to find what happened and to see how to handle the situation, and to stand up for the people that do get discriminated against.”

Zehlif could not be immediately reached by ABC News for further comment.

Los Osos High School Principal Susan Petrocelli apologized for the incident on Twitter, stating the school is “taking every step possible to correct & investigate a regrettable misprint discovered in the yearbook.”

The school’s yearbook account tweeted an apology, stating that the misidentification was not intentional.

“We are investigating to figure how this happened and we are certainly sensitive to the young lady. We have been in contact with the family and will continue to work with them to determine how this could happen and how we can remedy the situation,” the Chaffey Joint Union High School District said in a statement.

School officials did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for further comment.

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