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Center for Bullying Prevention Opens in Anaheim

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The Center for the Prevention of Hate and Bullying, the first of its kind to be established by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), opened in Anaheim on Nov. 3 and hopes to restore safety within the Muslim community.

The center will serve the greater Los Angeles area and is based at the Los Angeles Chapter headquarters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. 

The center’s primary purpose is to counteract hate crimes and bullying against the Black, African, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities. 

hRecorded hate crimes against the Asian American community inspired by COVID-19 have increased over the last two years, and the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd heightened racial insensitivity towards the Black community. Both communities contain a high number of Muslims, and Southern California has the most prominent Muslim population in the U.S. at about half a million people. 

“For the Islamic community, there are several major areas where hatred affects us,” Interim Director of the Center for the Prevention of Hatred and Bullying Masih Fouladi said at the center’s inauguration. “The mosque is one of the first places where hatred appears.” 

A 2021 Bullying Report conducted by CAIR California revealed that nearly 56% of Muslim students in California have felt “unsafe, unwelcome or uncomfortable” in educational settings due to their religious affiliation. 

Muslim students in California have repeatedly reported instances of bullying and harassment inspired by Islamophobia and religious discrimination; the experiences included both adult and peer perpetrators. 

“[A college campus] is no longer a place to share free thought,” Fouladi said. According to Fouladi, even those who do not verbally express their religious beliefs could be targets of hate because they are “visibly Muslim,” especially women who wear hijabs or head scarves. 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta and his office have pledged their support to the cause. Bonta’s office also embarked on a statewide tour to advocate for hate crime prevention with local officials and grassroots groups. Bonta stopped in Southern California cities such as Riverside, Santa Ana and Long Beach.  

“I’ve heard personal stories of how young people have been bullied because of how they look and how they pray,” Bonta said. “I’ve heard about victims of hate crimes who weren’t treated as victims at all. The hate crimes were not investigated.”

Fouladi plans for the center to take proactive steps against anti-Muslim hate crimes, such as raising awareness of increased Muslim hate during election cycles and advocating for Afghan refugees who plan to immigrate to Southern California. The center stated that they hope to collaborate with non-Muslims to understand the issues affecting them. 

“Sadly, we expect an increase in hate and bullying targeting that community,” Fouladi said. “We are already working with law enforcement so they can be cognizant as well as with school districts to make sure they have language support for these students.”

Bonta urged communities to collectively push back against hate. “There is only one collective, beautiful, diverse us,” he said

Founders and supporters of the center alike stated their optimism about its prospect of renewing safety within the Muslim community. 


Veronica Garza is a City News Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. She can be reached at garzavc@uci.edu.