The family of Nawshan Uppal, a 12-year-old Pakistani-American student at East Islip Union Free District’s Middle School near Long Island, N.Y., has filed a lawsuit against the school district following a January incident that resulted in Uppal’s false confession that he was a Daesh terrorist.
If your first reaction on reading this was, “Literally, what?” — welcome to the club.
Uppal’s family’s complaint states that the incident began in the school’s lunchroom on Jan. 6. Lunchrooms, which have long been a hotbed for bullying, have now naturally become an increasingly common setting for verbal Islamophobic attacks on Muslim children as well.
His tormentors simply followed him while the adults in the room — whose main job it is to prevent situations like this from occurring in the first place — stood by as if nothing was happening right in front of them.
In Uppal’s case, the lawsuit says he had been sitting for lunch as one is prone to doing during lunchtime in a middle school, when his classmates began taunting him and asking him what he was going to “blow up next.”
Uppal, who kept his cool better than most of us at age 12 would’ve in the situation, brushed off the attacks and instead tried moving to another table. But his tormentors simply followed him while the adults in the room — whose main job it is to prevent situations like this from occurring in the first place — stood by as if nothing was happening right in front of them.
Upset, Uppal, who also has severe learning and social disabilities, later admitted that he finally became exasperated and answered the bullies’ incessant questions with, “Yes, I am a terrorist, and I will blow up the school fence.”
As if getting bullied by his classmates and knowingly admitting that he said something he shouldn’t wasn’t enough, Uppal was pulled from his physical education class by Superintendent John Dolan, Principal Mark Bernard, and Assistant Principal Jason Stanton the following day.
So officials made a “mistake” and all’s well and good, right? Not if you’re a Muslim kid going to school in post-9/11 America.
Uppal’s family alleges that the team of administrators then proceeded to harass and interrogate the 12 year old, with Stanton supposedly asking him “if he was a terrorist, and if he made bombs in his house.”
And just when you think the story can’t get any worse, it does: As Uppal denied the ridiculous accusations, Stanton yelled at him to stop lying, and forced him to write a confession stating that he was “part of ISIS, knew how to make bombs, that he had bombs in his house, and that he was going to blow up the school fence.”
It’s difficult to imagine what it would be like to get a phone call from your son’s school that your son has stated that he’s a member of Daesh now and is going to blow up his school.
But that’s exactly what happened to Nubaisha Amar, Uppal’s mother. When she arrived, the police, who had been called to the scene, took her and Uppal back home and searched the premises before confirming what any reasonable person would: That there was no and never had been any serious threat.
So officials made a “mistake” and all’s well and good, right?
Not if you’re a Muslim kid going to school in post-9/11 America.
Despite the fact that there was no evidence against him and that he had been coerced into making the clearly false confession, Uppal’s school suspended him for a week for “criminal activity.”
God bless America, the Land of the Free* and the Home of the Brave.
*We regret to confirm once again that this freedom applies only to straight white cis-gendered Christian males of middle or upper-class financial status.