A North Carolina first grader was beaten on the school bus for being Muslim, his parents allege, the final straw in a series of hateful incidents against the family, The Express Tribune is reporting.
Abdul Usmani’s father, Dr. Zeeshanul Hassan Usmani, says his son is “as American as can be.” Nevertheless, that didn’t stop neighborhood bullies from calling him a “terrorist” and other nasty things. In a previous incident, Dr. Usmani says, bullies held his son down and tried to force-feed him food after finding out that he can only eat Halal food (“Halal” refers to food that meets Islam’s dietary regulations).
But what happened last week was the final straw. Usmani says that as Abdul was riding the bus home from Weatherstone Elementary School in Cary, North Carolina, bullies held his arms behind him so he couldn’t defend himself, while another group of bullies beat him.
“These are six and seven year old kids calling him names, with one kid punching him in the face, while two other kids attacked him, kicked him, and held his arms back. They keep beating him all the way from school to home on the bus.”
Besides being emotionally traumatized, Usmani says that Abdul also suffered a strained arm in the attack, according to Arab American News.
Usmani came to the U.S. from Pakistan years ago as a Fullbright Scholar, but chose to make the USA his home. Now, he says, this is no longer the country he grew to love.
“Times are changing and it’s not the America we always thought of and believed in. It’s not the America that I studied in.”
And in fact, the Usmani family has left the United States for Usmani’s native Pakistan. Last week’s bullying incident was the final straw. And whether or not he will return depends largely on how the November election pans out. To put it simply: if Donald Trump wins, Usmani believes that his family, being Muslims, would not be safe, and he won’t be coming back.
“If [Donald] Trump wins, America will be great again, but a great that nobody will care about.”
Usmani claims that violent incidents against Muslims have been on the increase since Trump emerged as a presidential candidate.
“All of these events, by the neighbors and everything skyrocketed since the beginning of the presidential campaigning last year. That’s why I’m coming back from Pakistan to empty my apartment [in North Carolina] and wait and see what happens.”
In fact, hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. have been on the increase in the past year or so, according to The Intercept. Haroon Moghul, a fellow at the Center for Global Policy, says that Trump’s candidacy, in the minds of bigots, legitimizes discrimination and hate crimes against Muslims.
“Words have consequences. If you push the limits of acceptable discourse to the extremes, you push people already on the edge over it.”
Back in North Carolina, Usmain’s claim that his son was bullied and beaten on the school bus for being Muslim is being disputed by school authorities. Lisa Luten, says that the school principal at Abdul’s school launched an investigation into the incident.
“[The principal] interviewed seven students sitting near this child, and none of the students, nor the bus driver, witnessed any type of altercation or incident.”
Luten also claims that the Usmani family, when they reported the incident, simply said it was a bullying incident, and didn’t mention anything about Abdul’s religion or nationality playing a role.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), wants Abdul’s school to turn the bullying incident over to the police to see if criminal charges against the bullies are possible.
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