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Teens beat up their Muslim classmate. Was it about race? Parents and police disagree

By ALEX HARRIS, For Miami Herald , On 26 December 2017, Read Original

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A Muslim teenage girl was badly beaten by a group of teens in a Boca Raton park Thursday afternoon. A video taken by a bystander went viral, prompting the question: Was it about race?

Her father, Shakeel Munshi — who posted the video on Facebook, where it racked up hundreds of thousands of views — said it was. His 14-year-old had been relentlessly bullied because she was Muslim, he said. 

The video shows Munshi’s daughter being thrown to the ground, kicked, dragged by her hair and — at one point — smacked repeatedly by three girls at once. Around 10 other teens stand around the fight, moving their phones closer to capture better video.

"She has bruises on her face. One eye is black," Munshi told NBC6. "She used to say that they’re making fun of her ... that she's terrorist, kind of thing."

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the fight, said the victim thought she was showing up to talk and that “At NO time was ‘race’ or ‘bullying’ ever discussed, determined or considered to have played a role in the altercation.”

Sheriff’s officials later went into more detail, telling NBC6 “it was apparently over a boyfriend.” 

The family has filed a police report, but they’re not the only ones calling for justice. The Council on American-Islamic Relations wants criminal charges filed against the teens, said Wilfredo Ruiz, communications director.

“There’s a hospitalized teen because of this,” he said. “It’s serious.”

His organization gets around a thousand calls for help each year, Ruiz said, and “a good amount” are from Muslim parents or students being bullied for their faith. In August, two Broward teachers were punished for calling their students terrorists. In 2015, a Cypress Bay High French teacher was suspended for five days after she called a 14-year-old Muslim student a “raghead Taliban’’ when he walked into class wearing a hoodie.

Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa is aware of the video and the fight, he said in a statement.

“I am saddened by this senseless violence. I am further concerned about individuals who stood by to videotape the incident instead of coming to the assistance of their peer by calling 911. As a community, we cannot ever get to a place where we are passive bystanders of such acts. We must expect more from one another and certainly, I expect more from our students,” he said.



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