FBI Looks Into 'Anti-Muslim Bullying' Case In New York

| by Michael Doherty
A Muslim girl wearing a headscarf.A Muslim girl wearing a headscarf.

The FBI is investigating a case of bullying in a New York high school that is suspected to be motivated by religious intolerance.

The two brothers at the center of the case, Jameel and Adam Siam, 16 and 15, reported that they experienced harassment from another pair of brothers at Williamsville East High School, according to The Buffalo News.

The Siam brothers reportedly experienced taunts from the other boys, saying that they were members of ISIS and that they were related to al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. The bullying also occurred on social media, with one boy posting a photo of the American flag with an Islamic flag, and the words "Siam Slayer," on Instagram.

When the Siam brothers found the boy at school and told him to remove the photo, a fight broke out and all three students were suspended.

Rehab Siam, the boys' mother, told The Buffalo News that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric had contributed to the bullying.

"First, the harassment was with Osama bin Laden, then with ISIS, and now it has been getting even worse with Trump," she said.

"We’re not denying the fight," she added. "But the school didn’t do anything. The Instagram post stayed up for two days after the fight."

The Siam brothers now face the possibility of being expelled from the school district, a punishment Dr. Khalid Qazi, a spokesman for the Muslim Public Affairs Council of WNY, feels is unfair. Qazi told The Buffalo News that the FBI has been notified of the situation at the school, and attended an Islamic community meeting about the bullying.

"If the local police determine there has been a hate crime, the FBI will certainly be involved," said Qazi.

Incidents of anti-Muslim bullying have been reported across the country in recent months. Twelve-year-old Abdu Rrahman Mohamed told youth radio station VoiceWaves that he received questions such as "are you part of ISIS," and "are you going to bomb this place," by non-Muslim students at his school, Mother Jones reports.

Even teachers and administrators have been involved in anti-Muslim incidents. In Florida, a high school French teacher is alleged to have called a 14-year-old student a "Rag-head Taliban." In a case that received national attention in 2015, 14-year-old Ahmed Muhammad was suspended when he brought a clock that he built to school over fears that the clock was a bomb.

In a statement regarding the Siam brothers' harassment, Williamsville East's superintendent Scott Martzloff stressed that the district takes bullying and threats seriously.

Source: Buffalo News, Mother Jones / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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