Ban Abdulghafoor did not expect to hear the voice of a Gilbert police officer on the line when she answered the phone last Thursday.

It was the final day of school at Mesquite Junior High School, and her 13-year-old son, Mustafa Abdul Razzaq, decided to stay home because it was a halfday. The call woke him from his late-morning slumber.

While Mustafa was asleep, Gilbert police were looking for him at school. This was going on as his fellow students were being evacuated at the school after a parent reported what appeared to be two bomb threats written in her son’s yearbook.

A boy named David signed one of the threats, implying that he might try to bomb the courtyard. The other threat was signed with Mustafa’s name.

Mustafa, his mother and police discussed the incident in interviews with the Tribune.

The teen and his family call it a religious bias incident that was one of many over the years that have targeted the boy because he is a Muslim. Police say it was just a prank that had unfortunate consequences.

The young Iraqi American recalls telling police, through tears, that another boy in his grade wrote the comment about him. He knew this because another student told him about it the week before. He had even confronted the boy about the yearbook.

At the time, he says, the boy laughed and walked away.

After speaking with Mustafa and his mother, police arrested two of Mustafa’s schoolmates, 13- and 14-year-old boys, who quickly admitted to writing the comments. The threat turned out to be a hoax, and the district filed several charges against the two boys. Police determined the two were friends and they wrote the bomb threats to be humorous.

Neither Mustafa nor his mother thought it was funny.

Since the deadly attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, they say this is just one of many times that Mustafa’s classmates have labeled him a terrorist. He says kids have told him to “go hijack a plane and run into a building” verbally and on notes they’ve left on his desk. . .

Mohammed AbuHannoud, the civil rights director for the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says his organization hears these types of complaints all the time.

“I think Mustafa is an example of what’s going on here after Sept. 11 with a lot of Muslim families,” AbuHannoud says. “I get so many calls, for example, from other parents and they complain, ‘My son is called Saddam, or a classmate called my son Hussein or Saddam Hussein.’ The schools do not do anything serious against that.”


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