10-year-old Muslim schoolgirl receives note calling her a 'terrorist'
On Tuesday, the FBI released their annual 'Hate Crime Statistics' report, and the numbers revealed a disturbing trend: Last year, American law enforcement agencies reported 7,175 hate crimes, compared to 6,121 in 2016, which is an increase of 17%. (On their website, the bureau defines a hate crime as a "criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.")
For whatever reason, hateful people are feeling emboldened, crawling out of the shadows to hurt others. And it's not just adults. Last Friday, a 10-year-old girl at a Massachusetts elementary school opened her classroom cubby and found a threatening note. It read, in scrawled pencil, "You're a terrorist." "She was visibly upset, she was crying," her uncle Jamaal Siddiqui told CBS. "That’s not what Islam teaches, and that’s not what Muslims are."
The fifth-grader turned the note in to her teacher, who then notified the principal, Elizabeth Simon. Hoping they could resolve the issue without involving the police, Simon visited every classroom and ordered the offender to come forward. She also emailed the parents, condemning the incident and asking them for any information. However, they could not find the culprit. And on Tuesday, the 10-year-old Muslim girl found another chilling note in her cubby, once again written in scrawled pencil. It read, "I WILL KILL YOU." "Just the thought of that makes me feel sick to my stomach," said Siddiqui.
Hemenway Elementary School is located in Framingham, Massachusetts, which is about 25 miles west of Boston. At a news conference, school district superintendent Robert Tremblay said that safety is their priority. Despite the handwritten death threat, the fifth grader and the other students do not appear to be in imminent danger. The police are investigating the incident and treating the notes as a hate crime. In addition, the school district is conducting an internal investigation.
The girl's name has not been published to protect her privacy. Her uncle said that despite the safety concerns, she's continuing to go to school every day. "All she said is she wants to be as normal as possible. She doesn't want to be treated differently," Siddiqui told CNN. "I've been through racism. My wife has been through racism. As adults we know how to cope with it. But for our niece, she doesn't know why she's being targeted."
The victim's family is active in the community and this is the first discriminatory incident at the school. Reportedly, the staff is devastated, the parents are disgusted and the other students have rallied around the girl. School officials say that the other fifth-grade students wrote nice notes to the victim, in a heartwarming effort to bring the children together.
At the news conference on Wednesday, superintendent Tremblay said, "When you think about a child who's in fifth grade... That kind of hate, you know, where does that come from?" That is an excellent question.