A young Muslim child with Down’s syndrome was recently reported to police by a substitute teacher at CJ Harris Elementary School in Pearland, Texas because the teacher suspected that the boy might be a terrorist. The teacher claims that the 6-year-old boy said “Allah” and “boom” multiple times throughout the class, but the boy’s father, Maher Suleiman, said that his child cannot speak, so the accusations against him are ridiculous and impossible.
Even if the child did utter those two words, there is nothing threatening about them at all. Would the words “god” and “boom” ever elicit this type of response if they were not spoken by a child with brown skin and a Muslim name?
While the police quickly dropped the case, Child Protective Services is now investigating the family, turning their lives upside down.
The family contacted local activist Quanell X for help with their case.
“When the father first reached out to me, I really didn’t think the story was completely true. I thought maybe because he was an immigrant, his English was not great, maybe he was a little confused about what was happening. But as my office began to work on it, we found his story to be true. How can you go after a six-year-old child and call him a terrorist?” Quanell said.
“This substitute teacher alleges that this six-year-old child was saying terroristic things. I’ve met this child. He cannot speak. He is severely, severely special needs. He has the mental capacity of a one-year-old. I couldn’t believe (the substitute teacher’s) story had gone to this degree – it’s extreme. To me, this is a case of some of the worst religious bigotry I have ever seen, and it’s specifically targeting a Muslim family,” he added.
Tiffani Butler, media specialist for Child Protective Services claims that the agency is required to investigate any type of incident that happens in a public school.
“The only reason we would be involved is because it’s something that happened at school,” Butler said.
However, Quanell said that there is no reason for them to be involved in the first place.
“To give the police credit, when I spoke to the assistant police chief in Pearland, the man was honest, respectful and believed this was extreme, but they had to follow protocol. I was just surprised that CPS was involved. What are they investigating? Neglect? Abuse? I didn’t realize Child Protective Services had a division that was trained to spot out Islamic terrorism,” Quanell explained.
While it is upsetting to see a 6-year-old child with special needs targeted because of their ethnicity or religion in this way, it is refreshing to see communities rally around the victims of these cases. It only takes one nasty individual to ruin our perception of the world, but it is important to remember that the majority of people out there are kind, loving and entirely oppose these types of hateful attitudes.
“Pearland needs to come together and say, ‘Wait a minute. We aren’t ok with this,” Quanell said.
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