Thursday 27 October 2016

Muslim student condemns class yearbook mistake after being misidentified as 'Isis Phillips'

Published 10/05/2016 | 09:26

Bayan Zehlif, 17, speaks during a news conference on Monday (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Bayan Zehlif, 17, speaks during a news conference on Monday (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

A Muslim high school student has been mistakenly identified in her Southern California yearbook as "Isis Phillips".

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Bayan Zehlif said is hurt not only by the error, but by her classmates who condemned her for denouncing it.

The 17-year-old said at a news conference with Muslim community advocates on Monday that she found it "coincidental" that she was mistaken for a girl whose name is widely associated with a terror group.

"Seeing the yearbook really hurt, but seeing my classmates go against me like that hurt even more," she told reporters at the offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Anaheim, California.

Chaffey Joint Union High School District superintendent Mat Holton said in a statement that Zehlif was misidentified as another student with the first name of Isis.

The other student, who no longer attends Los Osos High School, was also misidentified in the yearbook on a facing page, Mr Holton said.

"The families of both students were immediately contacted and offered a sincere apology," and another apology was offered at a second meeting on Monday with himself and the school principal, Mr Holton added.

Yearbook distribution has been halted until the error is fixed, and those who have already received them have been asked to return them.

He said an investigation is being carried out.

"If it is found that a student acted irresponsibly and intentionally, administration will take appropriate actions," he said.

Zehlif said she did not personally know Isis Phillips, but she had heard that a girl with that name had attended the school in Rancho Cucamonga. The mix-up occurred on a candid photo, and her class photo lists her name correctly, she said.

Zehlif posted a photo on Facebook of herself in a hijab with the name "Isis Phillips" underneath it as it appears in the yearbook.

Zehlif is staying away from school for now out of fear of the backlash from some of her classmates, but hopes to attend graduation next week as some of her relatives have travelled from Jordan for the ceremony, she said.

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