Dad Says His 7-Year-Old Son Was Beaten for Being Muslim -- Where Is the Outrage?

school busIf you think the inflammatory Islamophobic rhetoric plaguing this country isn't hurting anyone, let this story serve as incontrovertible proof of the contrary: The dad of a 7-year-old Muslim child said his son, Abdul, was beaten by a gang of his classmates on a school bus -- ridiculed, kicked, and punched in the face -- all for refusing to eat a sandwich that wasn't halal. It was apparently so frightening that Abdul's parents have moved the family from North Carolina to Pakistan for the duration of the election at least -- and can any of us actually blame them?

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The first grader's father, Dr. Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani, said that this wasn't the first time one of his children was discriminated against for being Muslim; he said one of his other sons was also attacked by kids from school who also tried to force feed him after finding out he only ate halal food. But what happened to Abdul was particularly damaging, both physically and emotionally.

"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," Usmani told Buzzfeed News. He said the adorable boy was left traumatized, with his arm in a sling -- and in a recent Facebook post, Usmani called out the current political climate, specifically Donald Trump, as the cause:

More from CafeMom: Teacher Calls Muslim Student a 'Terrorist' Proving Schools Aren't Free of Ignorance

Heartbreaking.

Investigations by school and law enforcement officials have found no evidence of an altercation. "No students who were interviewed witnessed an altercation," the principal of Wake County's Weatherstone Elementary School wrote in a letter to parents. "The bus driver did not witness an altercation. The child did not report to the bus driver any injury."

But that still doesn't mean that nothing happened. And it still doesn't mean that this family feels safe sending their children to school at this point.  

Unfortunately, depending on how this election goes, there might not be a reason for them to feel safe in this country in general. As Usmani said, "It's not the America we always thought of and believed in. If Trump wins, America will be great again, but a great that nobody will care about."

Adding insult to injury, as the saying goes, is the fact that Usmani happens to be a chief technology officer for a Silicon Valley company which makes software to combat terrorism in the Middle East (including a joint project with the United Nations to make Pakistan schools safe). But to Trump and those like him, Usmani might be viewed as nothing but a potential terrorist -- and that's what our children are being trained to see. In addition to the other attacks on his sons, Usmani spoke of the time his 8-year-old son was told by his classmates that his father was a terrorist -- after which the boy asked his father if he could stop going to school, so as to not "face any discrimination."

More from CafeMom: 'Muslims Should Tell on Each Other' Isn't a Lesson We Plan on Teaching Our Kids (Sorry, Trump)

This is what comes of encouraging racial profiling. This is what comes of spreading harmful and inaccurate stereotypes. Children being hurt. Families being driven away from their homes. According to a recent report from California State University-San Bernardino's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, anti-Muslim hate crimes in the US spiked in 2015, rising "to the highest levels since the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks," and that's no coincidence.

"There's very compelling evidence that political rhetoric may well play a role in directing behavior in the aftermath of a terrorist attack," said Brian Levin, the author of the report.

"I don't think we can dismiss contentions that rhetoric is one of the significant variables that can contribute to hate crimes."

Of course we can't! Of course, then, it makes sense that this recent increase in hate crimes seems to be linked to Trump's call for a ban on Muslims entering the US. Of course it makes sense that this seems to be linked to Trump saying that mosques should be monitored and his claims that "radical" Muslims are "trying to take over our children." For some completely incomprehensible reason, people actually listen to Donald Trump -- and those people, tragically, include children.

That's a really big deal, because it means this hateful political poison isn't just corrupting our current society, it's ruining our odds of the next generation achieving any kind of meaningful peace. It's turning America into a place many of us have a hard time recognizing -- a place where some of us, like Usmani, are afraid to even stay. 

 

Image via Shinichi Sugiyama/Flickr

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