Florida Muslim Child Assaulted in School
The Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) today called on law enforcement authorities to investigate an assault on a Muslim child at a school in that state as a hate crime.
The 12-year-old victim, a student at a middle school in Boyton Beach who wears an Islamic head scarf, says she was assaulted in the hallway of her school last week by four teenage boys who hit her across the face with a leather belt, injuring her lip.
During the assault, the boys allegedly called the Muslim child “Osama” and used derogative remarks about her head scarf and about her ethnic background. (The child is of Pakistani heritage.) The perpetrators also threatened further attacks if the victim notified school authorities.
The same student told CAIR-FL that she was the target of several similar but less violent incidents of harassment in the recent past. She says school officials failed to take corrective action following those incidents.
“We call on our elected leaders and law enforcement authorities to once again send a message that attacks against American Muslims, particularly children, will not be condoned and that perpetrators of such attacks will be punished to the full extent of the law,” said CAIR-FL Executive Director Altaf Ali.
Last week, a Muslim woman was similarly attacked in Tampa. The victim, who also wears an Islamic head scarf, says she was assaulted by three people who told her to “get out of (America)” and said her religion is “hateful and violent.” The assailants allegedly blamed the woman for the recent Madrid train bombings.
According to CAIR’s national office, the Florida assault is part of a recent rise in anti-Muslim incidents. In Texas, a suspect was arrested last Friday following four arson attacks on Muslim-operated businesses. Last month, vandals wrote “sand n**gers” and “America rocks b*tch” on the interior walls of the Islamic Center of the South Plains in Lubbock, Texas. In Maryland, the wife of the Imam, or spiritual leader, of an Annapolis mosque was assaulted.
CAIR-FL officials say Florida Muslims have witnessed an alarming rise of bias-related incidents in recent years. In 2001, a Tallahassee man drove his truck into a local mosque. In 2002, a Pinellas county man was arrested for plotting to attack some 50 Islamic institutions in Florida.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 26 regional offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.