I first saw the picture of the Passaic Valley yearbook entry on Facebook, where the student's name, face, and school were accompanying the image. While I appreciate that these items (aside from the school, of course, which I understand is unavoidable) were removed from the tapinto.net article, many have already seen the face and name of this student posted across social media by parents and former students of PV. That said, I would like to state that each of the four sections of the yearbook entry are harmless, and even if they are a joke, the fact that they are being directly associated with terrorism is Islamophobic, racist, and unfair to this student. While I understand how existing stereotypes make this yearbook entry seem threatening, it is exactly that stereotype that is permitting current outrage.

The only fault I see in the yearbook entry is the fact that those are his nicknames. If those are the names he is being called in school, that is grounds for the only thing that should be investigated and taken necessary action against. This student that needs to be assured of their safety in light of these bigoted nicknames inflicted upon by his peers. Further, "To get past TSA without getting stopped" is a basic "ambition" of any Muslim person, who is embarrassed and violated every time they are "randomly" profiled and searched in an airport. 

The outrage over the student's ambition to become a pilot outs everyone that thinks the only reasons a Muslim would want to be a pilot is to become a terrorist. Even if this line of the yearbook entry is a joke, becoming a pilot is not, and will never be, synonymous with becoming a terrorist.

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I am surprised that people from my alma mater are bothered by the last line of the yearbook entry. Thanking "Allah" (or "God", which is the literal translation to this word that somehow evokes fear in non-Muslims) is a privilege that Muslims do not share with Christians. Mosques are randomly patrolled by plain-clothes officers (something that definitely does not happen at our local churches), they are places of mass shootings by Islamophobes, and hyper-surveilled by the FBI, NSA, CIA, and police departments (namely the NYPD).

I would like to take a moment to congratulate the class of 2019. I am saddened that something of this nature had to arise at this time, and not at the time of publication, when it could have been reevaluated or revised, and saved great (and unnecessary) embarrassment of this student. 

Nazelie Doghramadjian
Passaic Valley, Class of 2014