A New York family has filed a $50 million federal civil rights lawsuit against their son’s school district, alleging authorities forced the disabled Muslim student to wrongly admit he is affiliated with ISIS.
The family of Nashwan Uppal, a 12-year-old special needs student with Pakistani heritage, is suing East Islip School District over accusations school officials pressured Uppal to say he was a member of the terrorist organization, Reuters reports.
Uppal was relentlessly harassed and bullies by his peers who called him a terrorist and asked what he intended to “blow up next.” Given his learning disabilities, the middle school student was confused by their derision and eventually replied the school’s fence.
Amid the commotion, the school’s assistant principal “under extreme duress” coerced Uppal to sign a written confession falsely stating he was a member of ISIS. School officials then searched his belongings and police were sent to search the boy’s home.
Uppal believed a “terrorist” was someone who traveled around, mistaking the word with tourist.
Attorney David Antwork rightly noted the driving force behind this heinous incident.
“It’s hard nowadays to be a Muslim in this country,” Antwork told CBS New York. “There’s a lot going on in the news, there’s a lot of anti-Muslim rhetoric.”
The rise of Donald Trump’s particularly explicit brand of bigotry has paved the way for xenophobic attitudes and gestures to take root and thrive openly.
Just last year 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed made waves across social media after school authorities ignorantly assumed his school project was a homemade bomb. Yet the contraption was actually a clock which should have earned the whiz kid an A, but instead landed him in handcuffs.
Islamophobic rhetoric spouted by “politicians” like Trump has skyrocketed hate crimes against Muslims and created a culture where hate speech is the norm.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Christopher Aluka Berry