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CAIR Welcomes Minnesota Department of Education Probe of Bullying That Led to Muslim Student’s Suicide

(WASHINGTON, DC, 7/31/18) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed the Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDOE) decision to open an investigation into Chisago Lakes High School’s non-compliance with the school district’s bullying prohibition policy. 

CAIR filed a complaint and request for investigation on behalf of Faith Elsharkawy after her son, Jacob LeTourneau-Elsharkawy, committed suicide because of alleged severe bullying at Chisago Lakes High School. 

Jacob, a 15-year-old Chisago Lakes High School student, was reportedly terrorized by school bullies, including multiple assaults that led to severe injuries and emergency room visits.  The bullying started after his classmates learned that he was Muslim. 

In addition to physical assaults, Jacob was allegedly called derogatory and Islamophobic remarks such as being called a “terrorist” and “bomber man.” Despite multiple complaints and requests to protect her son from the bullying, Chisago Lakes High School administration failed to take steps to protect and support Jacob. 

Jacob’s mother says she determined to ensure that no child at Chisago Lakes High School goes through the bullying and lack of inaction from administrators that Jacob endured. 

SEE: Chicago Tribune: Jacob LeTourneau Commits Suicide After Being Bullied at Chisago Lakes High School

“Jacob was such a wonderful kid. He deserved so much better from the school, but they let him down. They let us all down. I cannot believe I was putting dirt on his grave instead of putting his gown on for his graduation with all his friends. This week I put the nameplate on his grave and the finality of it all really sunk in. Jacob and I are never going to sit on the couch and watch The Flash again. I do not want another mother in this district to be burying her child,” said his mother Faith.

“We welcome the Minnesota Department of Education’s decision to open an investigation into Chisago Lakes High School for its failure to take reasonable steps to stop and protect Jacob from an onslaught of bullying incidents at school,” said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri. “Ms. Elsharkawy lost her child because of the school district’s failures, and she wants to make sure that no parent goes through the pain and suffering of losing a child to bullying.”

“Having met Jacob’s parents multiple times, what struck me was how quintessentially Minnesotan their life is. I met Uncle David and their dog Baby. Yet, during their most dire time of need, their school district not only abandoned them and disregarded the law, but made the situation even worse,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Amir Malik.

“School-based bullying targeting Muslim students has increased exponentially in our state because of the rise of Islamophobia. It is imperative that all stakeholders in our school systems step up to support efforts to protect all students, especially disproportionally-impacted Muslim students,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein.

CAIR has documented a significant rise in anti-Muslim school bullying incidents. 

A study by CAIR’s California chapter reported that 55 percent of American Muslim students experience some form of bullying based on their religious identity. This is twice the national average for students who report being bullied at school.

SEE ALSO: CAIR-Philadelphia Documents Increased Pattern of Anti-Muslim Bullying in Schools

Community members are being urged to report any bullying incidents to school administrators and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by going to: https://www.cair.com/report

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

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CONTACT: CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri, 248-390-9784, lmasri@cair.com; CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425, gabbas@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com; and CAIR-Minnesota Executive Director Jaylani Hussein, 612-406-0070, jhussein@cair.com

 

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