- Zarifeh Shalabi, 17, was voted prom queen by students of Summit High School in Fontan, San Bernardino County, California
- This happened a few months after 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured in a terrorist attack on the same area
- Shalabi hopes her prom queen win will inspire other young women to follow their dreams even if they seem out of reach
SAN BERNARDINO, California – The Summit High School in Fontan, San Bernardino County made the news headline after voting a Muslim teenager as their reigning prom queen; a few months after the place suffered a terror attack.
On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured in a terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California. The perpetrators, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple living in the city of Redlands, targeted a San Bernardino County Department of Public Health training event and holiday party of about 80 employees in a rented banquet room.
The duo started shooting indiscriminately and also attempted to bomb the place.
After the terror attack, the Muslim teenagers in the area were too scared to go to work or even leave the house for fear of anti-Muslim backlash.
“Some people don’t like Muslims. Some people see all Muslims as all of us as terrorists even though terrorism isn’t a religion,” said 17-year-old Zarifeh Shalabi.
However, the senior students at Summit High School were able to move beyond the hate and accomplished something that was unthinkable when Shalabi was voted as the prom queen.
CBS Los Angeles mentioned in their article published on May 3 that the teenager never considered being a prom queen to be included in her bucket list. But after making it at the prom court, she realized that becoming queen could be a reality.
“My mom is very strict. She didn’t allow me to go to homecoming. That was my first, basically, party. I’ve never been to an event like that before. So for my first time going to something like that and winning prom queen, that was just crazy,” the teenager shared.
Leticia Juarez mentioned in her article for ABC News that Shalabi believed she will never be voted queen if not for the tremendous support of her friends who nominated her and campaigned hard for her.
The teenager said her friends all wore a “headscarf” to show their support; complete with a slogan saying, “Don’t be a baddie. Vote for the hijabi.”
All of her friends’ efforts were not in vain as Shalabi was crowned as the school’s prom queen.
“When they announced my name, I was just in total shock. I liked the top five candidates that were there. But I felt that they were more well-known and liked in school. So I thought that they had a better chance than me. So for me to win was crazy,” Shalabi said.
Shalabi hopes her prom queen win will inspire other young women to follow their dreams even if they seem out of reach.