Source: Huffington Post
These are things that most of us do every day without a second thought, but these unremarkable events are increasingly fraught with fear for many Muslims. As a wave of bigotry sweeps the country, Muslims (and those perceived to be Muslim) are facing unprecedented harassment, discrimination, and violence simply for living their lives. It seems anti-Muslim bigotry is everywhere, even in our public schools.
Today, the ACLU and the ACLU of Arizona filed letters of complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education to make clear that enough is enough. Any anti-Muslim discrimination is detestable, but it is especially pernicious when it targets students in our public schools, which should be safe havens for students of all faiths, and those of none.
As alleged in the letters of complaint, the Academy of Excellence, a public charter school in Phoenix, Arizona, is anything but a safe haven for Muslim and immigrant students like our client A.A. During the 2015–2016 school year, A.A. was a sixth grader at the Academy, where he was repeatedly discriminated against by his teacher because he is a Muslim and because, as a refugee, he hails from Somalia.
On one occasion, A.A.’s teacher showed a video to the class about 9/11 terrorists and then said to A.A. in front of the entire class, “That’s going to be you,” suggesting that he was destined to become a terrorist himself.
Another time, when A.A. raised his hand to answer a question, his teacher snapped at him — “All you Muslims think you are so smart” — in front of the entire class. Then, referring to the fact that A.A. and his family were resettled in the United States on refugee visas, the teacher started ranting about Donald Trump, telling A.A.:
“I can’t wait until Trump is elected. He’s going to deport all you Muslims. Muslims shouldn’t be given visas. They’ll probably take away your visa and deport you. You’re going to be the next terrorist, I bet.”
On the bus ride home, A.A.’s classmates mimicked his teacher’s anti-Muslim comments, taunting him about the fact that his visa would be revoked because he is a Muslim, calling him a “terrorist,” and accusing him of planning to blow up the bus.