“Go back to Pakistan!” New York parents harass Muslim students and families after the graduation speech
The chapter now calls for school officials to apologize publicly and take corrective action after the incident. According to CAIR-NY, the Wheatley School provided false information to both parents and the public, which ultimately contributed to the bullying and harassment of the student and her family. The June 20 incident drew a social following under the hashtag #WeStandForHuda who are not only Islamophobic, but also anti-Palestinian and anti-immigrant.
As a speaker, 17-year-old Huda gave a speech calling on students to learn about international affairs, including human rights violations in Palestine and China. According to CAIR-NY, she was not only attacked during the speech, but asked by a parent to "return to Pakistan" during the graduation ceremony. Huda had made her Pakistani heritage known during the speech.
“Find out about international dilemmas, including the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and Uighur Muslims. Families are constantly being torn apart and real lives are lost but ignored, ”said Huda in her speech.
“Find out about the widespread problems that plague our planet and threaten our very existence in the long run: See global warming with the force of gravity with which it must be viewed. And never stop talking about these problems until they are resolved, ”she continued.
The parents in the audience not only whistled Huda, but shouted: "We support Israel". According to CAIR-NY, a parent was even caught on video questioning the student about Hamas after the speech.
In addition, Huda's family was harassed, and school officials did not take any action against them. One of the male parents is said to have become so aggressive that security officers and a detective had to accompany him away from the family.
But instead of supporting the family and the student, the headmaster is said to have blamed Huda for mentioning Palestine in her speech. He claimed he allegedly failed to review the speech before approving it. This comment has sparked controversy as to why a speech that mentions learning about international subjects would not be approved.
But that's not the only problem: after graduation, the school sent two emails to parents. In both emails, the school alleged that Huda's speech was not approved despite the headmaster's approval and accused her of distracting from her approved speech.
The e-mail according to the principle was:
“Unfortunately, one of the student speakers deviated from the remarks originally approved by the selections made by the Graduate Speaking Committee and presented personal views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I want to make it clear that the injection of such remarks for the graduation ceremony was absolutely inappropriate, as were any political statements made during a celebration designed solely to recognize our seniors and their many accomplishments as members of our Wheatley School community. The comments were not part of the approved speech. I apologize that such a wonderful ceremony was ruined for many in attendance because of these remarks. "
Nowhere did the principal or school acknowledge the harassment or bullying that Huda and her family faced. According to CAIR-NY, the email sent made matters worse and contributed to more hatred towards the family.
It was only after CAIR-NY was called on June 22nd that Dr. Feeney identified school principals that he "held adults accountable" and condemned the parents' actions.
Due to the harassment and bullying, Huda suffers from severe anxiety which has led to her being hospitalized. Her family lives in fear of the threats and harassment they have faced.
“It is shocking to see the East Williston School District, Wheatley School and Headmaster Dr. Feeney relinquishing her basic duty to provide a safe and supportive environment for all students and families, including Huda and other Muslims, "said CAIR-NY Legal Director Ahmed Mohamed.
“The East Williston School District and Wheatley School need to address their anti-Muslim bias. It is clear that they do not care about their Muslim students. Instead of supporting an endangered Muslim student, they chose to target, vilify and slander the entire school community. It is hideous and must be called out. "
The organization uses the hashtag #WeStandWithHuda to raise support for the student and to remind her that she is not alone.
According to a recent one report from CAIR-MA, 60% of Muslim students in Massachusetts reported having been mocked, molested, or physically abused because of their Islamic beliefs. Reports in other states have found similar results. According to a survey One in three Muslim students in California does not feel safe, welcomed, or respected in school. Almost a third of students said school staff made abusive comments about Islam or Muslims in the school.
Recommendations have been made that schools provide cultural literacy training for both teachers and staff, as students are often not the only ones contributing to this anti-Muslim behavior. About 40% of respondents in the Massachusetts study said school officials also made offensive comments about Islam or Muslims.
Amid increasing reports of bullying and harassment of Muslim students, CAIR urges Congress to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act. The law would prohibit bullying and harassment based on religion, race, color, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity of a student. According to CAIR, there is currently no federal law that directly deals with bullying.