Muslim Student Misidentified as ‘Isis’ in Yearbook

By Kenrya Rankin May 09, 2016

It may be titled “Our Story,” but for one Rancho Cucamonga, California, teen, her new high school yearbook tells a story she’d rather forget.

Bayan Zehlif, who is Muslim and wears hijab, opened her yearbook to find that she had been misidentified as “Isis Phillips.” While “Isis” is traditionally associated with Egyptian mythology, it has dominated the news of late as an acronym for extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Zehlif posted a photo of the page on Facebook on Saturday (May 7), and wrote: “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. 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.”


The school district’s superintendent, Mat Holton, told the Los Angeles Times that Zehlif’s picture carried the name of another student at the school, and that both families had been contacted. He also said that the school will investigate the situation. “If they find that a student acted irresponsibly and intentionally, administration will take appropriate actions,” Holton said. “The school will assure students, staff and the community that this regrettable incident in no way represents the values, or beliefs, of Los Osos High School.”

The school has recalled the 287 yearbooks that have already been distributed, and will reprint them to fix the error.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a statement on Sunday regarding the incident. In it, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of CAIR said: “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. No student should have to face the humiliation of being associated with a group as reprehensible as ISIS.”

The yearbook staff issued an apology via Twitter: